Road freight has an unfair advantage over other forms of transport in the EU. Road traffic accounts for almost all external costs caused by transportation in the EU - several hundred billion euro! Road freight makes up 95% of all road transport externalities. Since these externalities are borne by taxpayers and not by the companies in the road freight business they make road freight appear cheaper than it actually is.
The introduction of road tolls, including these external costs into the costs of transport companies would mean introducing much fairer prices in the transport sector.
The revenues from such tolls could be used to finance infrastructure and reduce costs for taxpayers. It would also create price incentives to shift transport away from roads to other modes of transportation.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens demand that European legislation defines how to price in the externalities of road freight. We believe that residents living along transport routes should not pay with their health for unlimited road freight, its noise and its air pollution. European pollution reduction targets have failed to reduce total pollution: traffic increase has made up for the marginal pollution reduction.
Overall road freight might reduce, once the costs of its side-effects are priced in. This will benefit the climate, reduce road accidents and traffic jams. Overall transport efficiency will be increased.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
The Greens managed to convince a majority in the Parliament of the polluter pays principle.
Even though it remains in the hands of Member States to apply these rules or not, it is the first time that European legislation accepts to charge for external effects - a big success after over 20 years of debate.
The new rules for road charging in Europe will allow Member States to charge road freight companies for the external costs they cause.
Which points did the Greens lose?
The Greens were disappointed that the legislation was designed to be voluntary from the start.
It also included only the most rudimentary forms of externalities, namely noise and air pollution. But the Commission recognises a wider range of externalities, which have been ignored in this context: accidents, climate change, and damage of landscape and biodiversity.
The legislation has loopholes for lorries lighter than 12t. And only the most polluting lorries can be charged mark-ups in mountainous areas, which are often environmentally highly sensitive areas.
This relatively bad outcome is the result of the weak bargaining of the S&D deputy in charge of the file.