On 3 May 2021, the EEA EFTA States issued an EEA EFTA Comment on the Commission proposal on the revision of the Eurovignette Directive published on 31 May 2017. The Comment is aimed at the inter-institutional negotiations on the Commission proposal, which have started on the EU side.
The Commission’s proposal amends Directive 1999/62/EC (Eurovignette Directive). This Directive provides the legal framework for charging heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain roads and ensures fair competition between transport undertakings by progressive harmonisation of vehicle charges. However, the Eurovignette Directive currently does not sufficiently tackle the increase of CO2 emissions nor the broader social impacts of road transport. In line with the European Green Deal and the European Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, the Commission proposal would address these shortcomings.
Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway welcome the Commission proposal and support the increased focus on the development of climate-friendly transport solutions, as well as the application of the “user pays” principle to road charging schemes. This will be central to achieving the shared goal of reducing CO2 emissions and to build a fairer, more sustainable, and more competitive transport system in the EEA.
However, the EEA EFTA States firmly believe that common environmental and social goals will be best achieved if the revised Eurovignette Directive allows for sufficient flexibility for Member States. First, instead of mandatory measures regarding road charging, the revised Eurovignette Directive should provide a toolbox of different measures for Member States to choose from freely. National authorities are indeed best placed to recognise national, regional, and local variations in the transport system and subsequently decide on the need for tailor-made measures.
Moreover, the EEA EFTA States believe that a revised Eurovignette Directive should better reflect the variety of tolling systems and charging models in Europe. This includes systems that are not based on time or distance, and systems providing for toll revenues to be used to build new infrastructure. It should be possible for Member States to decide on the measures that are best suited to their own country rather than be restricted to narrow predefined models.
Finally, toll discounts can be used to incentivise desirable practices, such as the rollout of zero-emission vehicles and onboard units for toll charging. Nevertheless, these measures could have adverse effects on Member States revenues and should reflect actual savings in the administrative costs. Thus, as the need to introduce a discount may differ vastly between Member States, the EEA EFTA States consider that a revised Eurovignette Directive should also be flexible in this respect.
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