7 JUN 2011
By Jonathan Stearns | Bloomberg
The European Union decided to let governments charge trucks for air pollution and noise, a step that may shift some cargo from roads to railways.
The European Parliament approved a law allowing environmental costs to be included in truck tolls, which may rise 12 percent to 27 percent as a result. Current EU rules prohibit environmental surcharges on the fleets of companies such as Deutsche Post AG (DPW) except in mountain regions such as the Alps to avoid fragmenting the European market.
“Finally ‘the polluter pays’ principle is introduced in road transport,” said Said El Khadraoui, a Belgian member who steered the legislation through the 27-nation EU assembly today in Strasbourg, France. EU governments have signaled their support for the law, making their final approval a formality in the coming weeks.
The EU aims to reduce harmful emissions and costly delays on its highways. Road transport is responsible for 75 percent of nitrous-oxide discharges from transport and the cost of traffic jams amounts to about 1.1 percent of the EU economy, according to the European Commission. Trucks create about a quarter of these effects, says the commission, which proposed the legislation in July 2008.
The law establishes a framework for EU nations to calculate and vary truck tolls, which are now based on infrastructure costs, according to broader environmental effects.
The legislation may increase truck tolls in Europe by 3 euro cents ($0.04) to 4 cents per vehicle per kilometer (0.6 mile) on average from a current level ranging from 15 cents to 25 cents, according to the commission, the EU’s regulatory arm.
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