Reducing pollution through extended tolls on lorries
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Road carriers in the EU will have to contribute more to cover the costs they generate in terms of pollution and traffic jam. On 12 September, the Council adopted the Eurovignette directive revising the current rules on road use charges for heavy goods vehicles.
The Eurovignette is a road user charge which gives access to the major road networks of several member states. The aim of the directive is to reduce pollution from road freight transport and make traffic flow smoother by levying tolls that factor in the costs of air and noise pollution caused by traffic and help avoid tailbacks.
To this end, member states may apply a charge on lorries, which complements the already existing charges designed to recover the costs of construction, operation, maintenance and development of road infrastructure.
To encourage carriers to choose alternative routes or not drive at all during rush hours, they may also modulate the infrastructure charge to take account of road congestion, with a maximum variation rate of 175 % during peak periods compared to average charge levels and limited to five hours per day.
The level of tolls will vary depending on the emissions of the vehicle, the distance travelled, and the location and the time of road use. Such differentiated charging is intended to encourage the move to transport patterns which are more respectful of the environment, and for instance choose rail or waterways.
It is recommended that member states earmark revenue generated by the charges for projects in the transport sector, in particular in support of the trans-European transport network.
Member states have two years to transpose the directive into their national legislation.
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