EUROVIGNETTE: vote positif du Conseil 14/09/11

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“The benefits of CT to shippers and society at large can, however, only become obvious if the external costs of transport’s GHG emissions and transport-related accident costs are also allowed to become a price influencing factor” – said UIRR Executive Chairman, Rudy Colle, on the occasion.

The European Council reached a landmark decision on 12 September 2011 by approving the compromise amendment of the ‘Eurovignette Directive’ .  UIRR welcomes this resolution as the breakthrough in which the European legislator first recognised the need to internalise external costs of transport in order to allow correct price signals to be received by market players who use (road) transport services.

The new legislation will enable Member States of the European Union wishing to do so, to internalize two types of external costs of road transport: local air and noise pollution caused by the circulation of heavy goods vehicles.  The modulation of road tolls will also become possible to mitigate congestion over a maximum five hour period of the day on affected routes.

The importance of this decision, reached with the objection of two countries  and the abstention of three , must not be underestimated despite its limitations and the numerous exemptions to it.  External costs related to the various modes of transport differ to a great extent.  Internalisation of these costs, presently underwritten by public budgets, is essential to enable correct price signals to be delivered to users of transport services, and ultimately to create a fair competitive framework – especially over distances longer than 300km – between the different modes of transport based on the inherent technical properties of each.

Road-Rail Combined Transport (CT) is a system of freight forwarding which is based upon inserting economically and ecologically sustainable electric rail into long-distance (road) transport-chains through the use of intermodal loading units  (ILU).  The shifting of loads between modes takes place quickly and efficiently at transhipment terminals.  CT offers the competitive combination of the flexibility of road transport  –  used in the  positioning legs of ILUs  –  with the energy efficiency, extreme low greenhouse gas emissions and superior safety record of electric rail traction over long distances.

The legislation adopted by the European legislative bodies requires that a further amendment of these rules be developed by the European Commission within 48 months.  This period of time should enable

  • a comprehensive approach incorporating the revision of the legal framework of transport taxation and charging for transport-related government services, together with
  • aligning the basis of road tolling with the distance-based principle used in rail for many years, and
  • to devise rules for the internalisation of presently unaffected externalities: GHG-emissions, accident-related external costs and the costs of oil-dependency (as proposed in the UIRR position paper published in December 2010).
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