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Brussels, 8th July 2008

Greening Transport: new Commission package to drive the market towards sustainability

The European Commission today put forward a package of new "Greening Transport" initiatives to steer transport towards sustainability. First, a strategy to ensure that the prices of transport better reflect their real cost to society, so that environmental damage and congestion can gradually be reduced in a way that boosts the efficiency of transport and ultimately the economy as a whole. Second, a proposal to enable Member States to help make this happen through more efficient and greener road tolls for lorries, with the revenue to be used to reduce environmental impacts from transport and cut congestion. Third, a communication to reduce noise from rail freight. The package also includes an inventory of existing EU measures on greening transport and a communication on the additional greening transport initiatives that this Commission will take before the end of 2009.

Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for transport, said "This package is about tackling pollution and climate change, and making sure the polluter and not the taxpayer pays for environmental damage. Among the results will be greener transport, fewer emissions, up to 8% less fuel consumption by lorries and fewer hold-ups for all road users. Delays, unnecessary emissions and soaring costs are bad for transport companies, for their clients and for all of us. A more efficient and sustainable transport system will in the long run be a more user-friendly and cheaper transport system. "

The Strategy on the internalisation of external costs sets out how this can happen in all modes of transport. Building on existing EU measures and proposals, such as those on fuel taxation and including aviation in the EU's Emissions Trading System, it considers all external costs including climate change, local pollution, noise and congestion. It is accompanied by a common framework for estimating external costs in the EU.

The Proposal to revise the Directive on the charging of heavy goods vehicle for infrastructure use ("Eurovignette" Directive) [1] is a key part of this Strategy. It seeks to establish a framework which enables Member States to calculate and vary tolls according to the air and noise pollution from traffic emissions and peak-hour congestion levels. This will encourage freight transport operators to buy cleaner vehicles and improve their logistics and route planning. The tolls must be collected using electronic systems with any revenue being used in projects to alleviate the negative impacts of transport, such as research and development on cleaner and more energy efficient vehicles. A common method must be used in toll calculation so that tolls are transparent, proportionate and compatible with the internal market.

The revision of the Eurovignette Directive will now go forward to the European Parliament and the Council for debate and adoption under the co-decision procedure. Both the Parliament and the Council had previously asked the Commission to bring forward this measure, so the Commission is hopeful of rapid adoption so that it takes effect before 2011.

The Communication to reduce rail noise from the existing fleet sets out the steps to reduce the noise from rail freight trains by 50%. This will mean that, by 2014, 16 million people in the EU will benefit from markedly less rail noise. Currently, old wagons are the main culprits, so at the end of this year the Commission will propose changing the EU rules on track access charges to promote the use of wagons with low-noise brake systems.

See also MEMO/08/492

The full package will be made available at:

[1] Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 1999/62/EC on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures

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