On 11 February, the European Parliament is expected to adopt a report questioning the Transport Council’s deal on a transitional system for heavy lorry transit through Austria during 2004-2006. According to the Parliament’s Transport Committee, transit restrictions should apply only to three environmentally sensitive Alpine regions, and they should promote environmentally-friendly lorries while phasing out older ones.
For the period 2004-2006 after the expiry of the current ecopoint system on 31 December 2003, theCouncilproposes a simple extension of the current ecopoint system. The total number of ecopoints to be allocated to the Member States would remain more or less at the 2003 level, i.e. at about 40% of the number available in 1991. The most polluting vehicles would be banned from passing Austria, except if they are registered in Greece or Portugal.
TheParliament committeewants to narrow down thescopeof the regulation to cover only transit through certain Alpine passes and other ecologically sensitive areas along trans-European corridors, but not transit through Austria as a whole.
Secondly, it proposes the introduction of aquota systemto promote environmentally-friendly lorries and gradually ban older ones:
- In 2004, quotas would apply to older lorries, while the transit of cleaner lorries would be unrestricted. As almost half of the transit falls under this latter category, heavy lorry traffic through Austria would increase considerably.
- From 2005, the oldest and most polluting vehicles would be banned completely, without any exceptions for Greece and Portugal. Quotas would apply to most other vehicles, barring those with positive ecological rating.
In the course of enlargement, these quotas would be extended proportionally by each new Member State and by year.