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Roberts Zile: The compulsory Electronic Road Toll Service is premature

The report emphasizes that the existing European Electronic Road Toll (EETS) project has been unsuccessful due to the failure of the current EETS directive to achieve the implementation of an interoperable road toll service in all Member States.

“It is absurd to make the implementation of mutually compatible Electronic Road Toll Service systems compulsory for all EU Member States, if many of them, including Latvia, have not even implemented the so-called Eurovignette 1 fee for heavy goods vehicles until now,” Roberts Zile, Member of the European Parliament from the ECR, has stated.

He is also the shadow rapporteur for the European Parliament report “Strategy for an electronic toll service and vignette system on light private vehicles in Europe”. In the Parliamentary plenary session today in Strasbourg, the report was supported by the majority of the Parliament, with the ECR group voting against.

The report emphasizes that the existing European Electronic Road Toll (EETS) project has been unsuccessful due to the failure of the current EETS directive to achieve the implementation of an interoperable road toll service in all Member States. The report requests the European Commission to act firmly and enforce upon the Member States the development of the EETS project. This request, according to R. Zile, is inadequate.

“It is clear that in the current difficult financial situation neither Member States, nor the industry stakeholders have shown a willingness to develop the EETS. Therefore, it is incorrect to adopt a new regulation, in order to strengthen legislative pressure for the introduction of the EETS. Even more so, because there are EU Member States, including Latvia, which currently do not apply any road tolls, even for heavy goods vehicles.”

R. Zile admits that the report also includes various other unacceptable demands in terms of road toll enforcement in the Member States, such as, favouring distance-based rather than time-based charging systems. He claims that “this is one of the points in the report, where a unified approach is unduly imposed upon Member States, regardless of their economic and geographic differences. For example, the heavy goods vehicles queuing to enter Russia from the EU should be subject to a time-based charging system, considering the significant environmental damage caused by these vehicles.”

However, R. Zile also states that the inability of individual Member States to introduce the Eurovignette 1 system until now is inexcusable. “This hesitation, under the pretence of the interests of local carriers, is unacceptable. Local carriers don’t play dominant role in roads of Latvia, and state has a plenty of other means how to support them. Heavy goods vehicles traffic is damaging to the environment and the roads as well, and the costs thereafter have to be covered by the taxpayers. This approach is particularly harmful in countries with extensive heavy goods vehicle transit, where taxpayers have to bear the costs created by business from other countries.”

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