The European Commission confirmed, at the 7 January meeting of the EP Committee on Transport (TRAN), that it is working on a new legislative proposal on road user charges that will encourage the replacement of vignettes by a charging system based on distance covered. Passenger cars will be concerned, added the Commission's representative.

Presently, around 15 member states use a charging system for passenger cars. Such systems - for both trucks and cars - exist either in the form of a vignette giving the vehicle access to the road network for a given period (one year, one month), or as a fee based on distance covered. The Commission has never made a secret of its preference for the latter system, which is more in line with the 'polluter pays' principle. But will it impose it on the EU? That is an option being explored, possibly starting with trucks. Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas has already said that he considers the vignette as a transitional system, "not a long-term solution".

What is certain is that the Commission sees charging systems as the way to finance infrastructure in the future. That argument is all the easier to defend today, as investments have tended to drop drastically in recent years, particularly in the context of the crisis.


At the TRAN meeting, the Commission presented...

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