MEPs in Strasbourg today voted to increase the rates of charges for Heavy Goods Vehicles (Eurovignette) travelling in the EU.  At present the Eurovignette Directive currently authorises tolls on pollution and noise but does not oblige states to levy them. It currently applies to some 15,000kms of European motorways, half of the total tolled motorways in the EU. 

The average additional cost to hauliers could be up to 4 cents per vehicle, per kilometer but the least-polluting vehicles, running in slack periods, would be exempted.

Ireland has opted out of the Directive as is currently stands but the extension of its scope in other Member States would prove costly to Irish hauliers, exporters and producers. 

While there was strong opposition from a number of Member States that would be hardest hit by the road transport price hikes this Directive was passed in the European Parliament today by a qualified majority of MEPs (over two thirds).

Liam Aylward MEP voted to oppose the introduction of these measures and has criticised the EU authorities for failing to take into account the specific needs of peripheral Member States such as Ireland, who rely heavily on road transport to support the export sector.

“Export-led growth is the key to economic recovery in Ireland, the ill timed extension of this Directive to include tolls for pollution and noise will have serious cost implications for Irish hauliers and will set Irish exports back.”

“Given the large scale of multinational exports from Ireland, the costs incurred under this Directive could damage Irish exporting and haulage businesses and could potentially put the smaller companies with tight profit margins out of business.”

“I am disappointed that more was not done to ensure that the interests of Member States such as Ireland, who rely heavily on road transport, were not protected and would urge the government to act to ensure that this does not further hamper export led growth.”