MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher held a meeting yesterday evening with Siim Kallas, the EU Transport Commissioner and Vice President of the European Commission to discuss plans by the UK government to impose a tax on Irish hauliers transiting Northern Ireland. The HGV Road User Levy will be introduced from April 1st next.
Mr Gallagher also raised this important matter with the Minister for European Affairs, Paschal Donohue, T.D., yesterday during a visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Mr Gallagher confirmed today:
“I met with Commissioner Kallas and he has agreed to request his services to examine the situation and to establish whether the European Commission can intervene. I emphasised to the Commissioner the practical difficulties for Irish hauliers and in particular for Donegal hauliers due to their geographic location and for other hauliers based in the border counties.
“This is a penal and totally discriminatory tax on Irish vehicles. For example, hauliers travelling from Donegal to Dublin could cost as much as €30/40 per trip. The charge of €10 per crossing is based on a 24 hour rate commencing at midnight, therefore, the cost is double if a vehicle leaves Donegal on one evening and returns after midnight on the next day.”
“I also informed the Commissioner that I believe that the UK authorities must take into consideration the funding being provided by the Irish taxpayer for road developments in Northern Ireland, as part of the Good Friday Peace agreement.”
“I recently attended a briefing session by Donegal hauliers and I am extremely fearful that Donegal companies and other companies along the border may locate to Northern Ireland and I outlined the serious implications of this for jobs in the border counties.”
“Last week, I contacted the Minister for Transport requesting that he urgently prevails upon the British Government to exempt Northern Ireland and to ensure this problem is resolved before the 1st of April