The road transport sector is responsible for almost a quarter of Europe's greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, it creates high external costs like pollution, noise, congestion, as well as health and environmental problems to the European society. The opinion focuses on the issue of road charging on a European level to fight these negative effects. It will strengthen the internal market by seamless and interoperable tolling systems that collect road charging revenues that will be used for infrastructure investments and reduction of external cost of road transport.
The CoR opinion highlighted the need for regions with special geographic circumstance (like mountainous regions) to set targets corresponding to the actual cost of transport. This was also echoed in the EP report adopted in Parliament. The Parliament also stressed in their report that "Member States" shall mean all national and sub-national entities that are "empowered to ensure compliance with Union law."
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- notes that building up infrastructure can improve territorial cohesion and that infrastructure maintenance in many regions is nowadays at such a low level that there is a risk that territorial and social cohesion will deteriorate;
- believes that aspects of territorial and social cohesion must be taken into account. The introduction of road charging schemes must not lead to any exclusion on the basis of geographical location or socio-economic situation;
- notes that the quality of road infrastructure is on average declining and that investment decisions need to be taken in revenue-generating areas. Road tolls and external cost charges collected in one region need, in principle, to be reinvested in the transport infrastructure of the region in close co-operation with the competent local and regional authorities;
- is aware that the external costs of transport such as congestion and air and noise pollution have a serious impact on the environment and health and on the economy as a whole;
- points out that where the changes to the road toll principles (user pays, polluter pays) are applied by Member States and regions, they will inevitably lead to more vehicles using local road networks, with adverse effects on safety, the environment and the costs of maintaining the local road network;
- points out that the calculation of the tolls should take into account the differences between regions in terms of traffic density and the distance between business and residential centres;
- notes that road users are in an unequal position and that the principle of non-discrimination between the different types of road vehicles needs to be implemented.