EU agrees on taxes for heavy goods vehicles

European Transport Ministers have agreed on a Europe-wide system for taxing heavy goods vehicles according to the environmental impact, and an agreement for Switzerland to allow transit of larger vehicles subject to a per-journey tax.

The Proposed ‘Eurovignette Directive’ is intended to develop the internal market for road transport, and to covers the costs associated with road use, including externalities. It applies to vehicle duties, road tolls and road use charges for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

Starting July 2000, the new maximum charges for road use would range from 750 to 1550 ECU per year. Charges would be higher for non-European vehicles, and will vary according to the size of the vehicle and the amount of pollution it causes.

An agreement has also been reached with Switzerland for European trucks up to 40 tonnes to gain unlimited access to Swiss roads, subject to an average charge of 200 ECU. This will take effect after 2005 and when the first rail tunnel has opened (but not later than 2008). During the transition period, Switzerland will gradually increase charges and the number of permits allowed each year. Again, the charges will vary according to the size and polluting capacity of the vehicle. The Swiss will maintain their ban on night transportation, except for certain listed perishable goods.

Austria has been concerned that Swiss measures would drive more traffic through the Brenner Pass. According to the EU Transport Council, the new agreement, together with an 84 ECU tax on trucks crossing the Brenner Pass will divert traffic from the Brenner route and through Switzerland.

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