Ecopoints don’t win brownie points with transport MEPs

European ministers have come under attack following an agreement reached at a Council meeting to continue awarding ecopoints to environmentally friendly transit traffic through the Alps.

Limiting damage to vulnerable areas in the Alps

Limiting damage to vulnerable areas in the Alps

European transport ministers were criticised by the European Parliament’s Transport Committee for their proposed transitional system for lorries travelling through Austria during 2004-2006. Ministers agreed proposals that would effectively continue the current ecopoints system due to expire at the end of the year, and would also bring in charging and road restrictions by 2006.

MEP rapporteur Luciano Caveri said the transport ministers’ agreement clashed with MEPs’ demands. The committee agrees with the Council’s goals to promote environmentally friendly lorries and gradually ban older ones, but wants transit controls to be restricted to three environmentally sensitive Alpine regions.

In a report to be voted on at the next committee meeting, MEP’s say they are also concerned that the ecopoints system is too discriminatory and that ministers’ planned system of charging for the use of road infrastructure may not be in force by the end of 2006.

The Committee’s own recommendations include phasing in a quota system for older lorries during 2004, with a ban on the dirtiest lorries by 2005, while unrestricted transit would be offered to the cleanest vehicles from 2004. The measures would ensure that a sustainable transport system developed in the Alps, with traffic regulated primarily in ecologically sensitive areas, say MEPs.



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