29 March 2006

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Business Today

Malta votes against Eurovignette directive

The European Council on Monday adopted the Eurovignette directive on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures. Malta and Portugal voted against whilst Estonia, Finland and Greece abstained from voting.
The directive lays down rules for calculating tolls and user charges for the use of roads on the trans-European road network. It also enables Member States to apply tolls and user charges on roads not forming part of the trans-European network, for instance parallel roads, with a view to managing traffic flows. In addition, Member States may choose to apply tolls or charges to only parts of the trans-European network or not to apply tolls or charges at all.
As from 2012, the directive will also apply, subject to certain exemptions, to vehicles of between 3.5 tonnes and 12 tonnes. In order to tackle congestion and environmental damage, the new directive extends the possibilities for Member States to vary tolls according to a vehicle’s emission category, and the level of damage it causes to roads, the place, the time and the amount of congestion. In addition, it enables Member States to charge mark-ups on tolls on specific roads in mountainous regions, the revenue from these mark-ups being used for the funding of alternative infrastructure.
The directive also includes a new definition of “construction costs” which have to be taken into account for the purposes of settling tolls, it clarifies the level of discounts for frequent users and defines the role of the Commission in overseeing the system and verifying compliance of new tolling arrangements with the rules in place. Finally, the directive is aimed at ensuring compatibility with public-private partnerships.
Following entry into force of the directive, Member States will have to years in which to comply with its provisions. Within these two years, the Commission is also required to develop a model for the assessment of external costs, and this model maybe accompanied by new proposals to further revise the directive.

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