The transport commissioner may propose a European legal framework that would give cities the possibility of introducing congestion charging schemes similar to London’s – a move previously forbidden in some member states.
EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot has welcomed moves that would allow cities more freedom to set up their own pricing schemes, which, if implemented, could lead to more towns following the example of London’s congestion charging scheme.
Meeting on 19 April 2007 with representatives of around 20 European cities to discuss the future of urban mobility in Europe, the commissioner said that his future Green Paper on urban transport, due in September, could contain provisions for a harmonised legal framework on traffic-management schemes – one of the central requests of Eurocities, which represents 132 major cities across Europe.
Currently, national legislation in many EU countries, including France and Denmark, prevents local governments from introducing such charges – which can be useful both for limiting congestion in city centres and as a much-needed source of financing for developing public-transport systems.
Barrot also responded positively to Eurocities’ other major request, namely to allow local authorities to engage in joint-procurement campaigns to purchase clean vehicles. For the moment, each city must work with its own procurement procedures, which often causes market fragmentation and makes it expensive to invest in cleaner technologies.