On 9 November, the Council of the European Union formally adopted at first reading the revision of the Eurovignette Directive. The final text results from the informal deal reached among negotiators from the Council and the Parliament in June 2021. This adoption will allow for the transition from time-based to distance-based charging and reducing CO2 emissions.
New provisions ensure that time-based vignettes will be phased for heavy-duty vehicles on the core TEN-T network by 2029. Exemptions to the phasing-out of vignettes are allowed in duly justified cases, such as in cases of low population density or where a vignette applies to a limited section of a road, after the Commission has been notified. Member States will be allowed to vary infrastructure and user charges for heavy-duty vehicles based on CO2 emissions, thanks to a new EU-wide tool provided in the Directive.
External cost charging for air pollution will become mandatory for heavy-duty vehicles after a four-year transition period, where tolls are applied. Member States will use revenues generated by optional congestion charges, or their equivalent in financial value, to address congestion issues, or to develop sustainable transport and mobility in general. In addition, the new rules will allow Member States to apply a higher mark-up (up to 50%) to the infrastructure charge levied on specific highly congested road sections if all affected Member States agree.
The European Parliament now needs to formally adopt the text at second reading, with the vote in plenary session expected before the end of the year. After its publication in the Official Journal of the EU, Member States will have two years to incorporate the provisions into their national law.
ESC is especially happy that the text contains earmarking. It is important that in the rest of the process all instruments available (ETS, excise duties, and road charging) will be dovetailed and double counting will be avoided.
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