New EU rules to allow governments to charge trucks for air and noise pollution have received final backing from the European Parliament. They are expected to get the EU member states’ final approval in the next few weeks. The controversial “Eurovignette” laws were a three-year fight.
Belgian MEP Saïd el-Khadraoui, who guided the legislation through the institutional process, said: “There is pollution, there is noise, there is congestion and so on. We need to tackle these things. Otherwise, at some point, we won’t be able to move anymore. So, pricing is one element, among, many others, which can help to create this more sustainable transport system. It will be also good for the transport sector itself. One of the goals of this is to have a better, level playing field between the transport modes. Those who pollute more have to pay a little bit for those who pollute less.”
Road charging has proved troublesome to agree on, but opposition from southern European governments ebbed because it means cash to maintain infrastructure. Yet many in the sector say the move is misguided.
Marc Billiet, with the International Road and Transport Union Permanent Delegation to the EU, said: “The consequence will be extremely negative because it will increase the tax burden on the road transport sector, and it will also decrease the possibilities of road transport operators to reinvest in the cleanest technologies, and thus to ‘green’ the road freight transport sector at source.”
Brussels said the new EU rules will lead to more sustainable transport by accounting for air and noise-related strains not just on infrastructure but also on public health.