On June 3, EU Transport Ministers met to discuss the Eurovignette directive. The representative of the Portuguese Presidency began the discussion by providing an update on the negotiations and acknowledging the significant progress that has been made with regard to achieving consensus and agreement between co-legislators.
The representative of the Portuguese Presidency stated that the charging of vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures is recognised as being of great political and technical importance. Member States and the EU attach a great deal of importance to the proposal, especially due to its potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to contribute to the financing of road infrastructure and also to boost the EU’s policy objective of greening road transport. He said that the Commission adopted this proposal in 2017.
The representative acknowledged that most Member States would appreciate more flexibility in terms of charging systems. This flexibility is a key element of reaching a compromise, he said, as it brings together diverging opinions. It was later translated into a negotiating mandate granted in December 2020.
The Portuguese Presidency has given priority to this file and has stated its commitment to reaching a political agreement with the European Parliament. With this in mind, since January, the Portuguese Presidency has organised a wide range of meetings at the level of ambassadors and experts. Two informal trilogues with the European Parliament complemented the meetings and helped allow the co-legislators to achieve convergence on certain aspects. The outcome of the directive will only be a positive one if both co-legislators try and meet each other halfway, he said. To reach a compromise, the Presidency has circulated its proposals to the various Member State delegations and would advise all delegations to reflect in a constructive and flexible spirit on the compromise suggestions that were put on the table. The end goal is a greener, decarbonised and safer transport sector, he said.
Adina Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport, expressed thanks for the efforts made by parties in an attempt to reach an agreement on the directive. She acknowledged the varying degrees of flexibility shown by Member States and said that this should be considered going forward.
The representative of Sweden stated that a revised directive on Eurovignette would be an important tool to reduce the harmful impact of road transport on the climate. The directive should take into account the differences in Member States, however, and it should demonstrate clarity and flexibility on what charging systems are applied.
The representative of Austria said that this directive is actively contributing to more sustainability. More needs to be done, however, especially in the Alpine region.
The representative of Estonia said that it would be important for Member States to have the freedom to choose whether public transport vehicles like buses and trams will be charged or not. The EU must demonstrate understanding that these issues are not the same for everyone. The final agreement needs to be balanced, he said.
The representative of Latvia thanked the Presidency and the Commission for their work on this topic. All member states must be kept on board as plans develop, she said.