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EU Transport Council - 15 October 2010

Volume 516: debated on Thursday 14 October 2010

The first Transport Council of the Belgian presidency will take place in Luxembourg on 15 October.

The Council will be asked to reach a political agreement on the directive amending Directive 1999/62 on charging of heavy goods vehicles (the Eurovignette directive). The directive governs the taxation of lorries, including rules for the charging of access to road infrastructure where member states choose to do this. The proposed amendments include the removal of references to mandatory hypothecation of revenues and proposals to allow charges to be set flexibly within the overall cap to reflect externalities in areas and at times when there is congestion. We strongly support the former and believe the latter represents an acceptable approach to dealing with congestion. The amendments will also include proposals to allow member states discretion not to include goods vehicles weighing less than 12 tonnes in charging schemes—reflecting the fact that few such vehicles are involved in international traffic—and some limitation of the Commission’s powers to propose amendments to minimum and maximum rates using delegated acts. In particular the Commission’s power to increase the minimum rates of lorry circulation taxes, such as goods vehicle VED, has been removed. We support both of these proposals

We remain concerned that this directive, which impacts on national charging regimes and hence on tax, rests on a transport legal base and will continue to press our position that these issues should be agreed by unanimity. We will also continue to press the case for increasing maximum daily rates for time-based charging.

There will be an exchange of views on strategy and the future of transport 2010-2020. This will give Ministers an opportunity to set out their position on issues expected to be covered in the European Commission’s forthcoming White Paper on transport policy, prior to the more detailed analysis which will follow publication. I will reiterate the UK’s commitment to climate change mitigation measures in transport and to better regulation across the board.

The Council will be asked to adopt a mandate authorising the Commission to open negotiations with Brazil on a comprehensive air transport agreement. The Government support the opening of negotiations on such an agreement.

Under AOB the Commission will present their recent legislative proposal to recast the first rail package. There will be no substantive discussion.

Among items for adoption without debate (“A points”) the Council is expected to adopt conclusions on applications of the European global navigation satellite systems.