An EU compromise agreement on green road tolls for trucks was denounced by the freight sector as a mere additional tax that will increase the final price of goods. Meanwhile, the Greens criticised the deal for making too many concessions to business interests.
The European Union's 27 transport ministers adopted a compromise proposal by the Belgian EU Presidency on the Eurovignette Directive on Friday (15 October).
Friday's political agreement contains no obligation to earmark revenue generated by the new tolls for projects in the transport sector, but a mere recommendation to do so.
The Commission's original proposal was to earmark the revenue generated by the charge "for measures aimed at facilitating efficient pricing, reducing road transport pollution at source, mitigating its effects, improving the CO2 and energy performance of vehicles, and developing alternative infrastructure for transport users".
Following the Belgian proposal, there will be no specific levy on congestion, but it would be treated as part of existing infrastructure costs: member states would be allowed to charge significantly higher rates during rush hour but would accordingly have to charge lower rates in the middle of the night, when the roads are empty.
Ministers set the maximum rate of variation for congestion at 175% and the peak periods concerned will be limited to five hours per day.
Slight amendments to the Belgian proposal introduce a derogation exempting less polluting trucks that meet Euro V and VI emissions standards from the air pollution charge – Euro VI until 2018 and Euro V until 2014.
Member states could also decide on whether they wish to apply charges to vehicles between 3.5 and 12 tonnes in weight.