The plan to raise fuel duty in Romania gets messier and messier. Watch out for sequential speed traps in Belgium. Another border dispute between Bulgaria and Turkey.
Finally, the EU solidifies plans for its pan-European electronic road toll system.
ROMANIAN HAULIERS THREATEN FUEL BOYCOTT OVER TAX RISE.
Could Austria be the major beneficiary?!
Romanian hauliers have threatened to fill up abroad if the planned rise in fuel duty goes ahead.
Duty for both unleaded and diesel is due to rise by 7c per litre on 1 April.
A statement from the National Union of Road Transporters (UNTRR) says, ‘Romanian hauliers carrying out international transport operations will be forced to fuel out of the country. Shifting only 13% of the current volume of diesel sold in Romania would cancel any hypothetical gain for the Romanian state!’
Opposition to the increase – which the president has refused to sign into law, and which lead to a roads picket by truckers in December – has already seen the diesel duty rise postponed for three months.
The problem is that the tax rises are tied to a backstop loan from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF is said to be prepared to wait another three months but it seems the government has little choice but to go ahead eventually.
The move would go some way to redressing the balance of costs between hauliers in Eastern and Western Europe. Dutch truckers are due to strike next month over what they see as unfair competition from the East, in part because of fuel prices.
Raising the price by 7c per litre – or 8.7c including VAT – would make Romanian fuel the most expensive in the region.
Today’s data from www.fuel-prices-europe.info puts one litre of Romanian diesel at €1.328. In neighbouring Bulgaria it costs €1.350, in Serbia €1.324 and Hungary €1.356.
It would be 50% more than diesel in neighbouring Moldova to the East, and much more expensive than Western Balkan countries – Macedonia (€1.118), Kosovo (€1.190), Montenegro (€1.270), Bosnia (€1.224) – though again they are out of the way.
Perhaps surprisingly, to make the biggest savings on trips to Western Europe Romanian truckers would be best advised to refuel in Austria. The average price of a litre of diesel today is €1.310.
BELGIUM. Police have cottoned on to the advantages of sequential speed controls, a mix of mobile and fixed cameras. In 25 operations since July over 17,000 fines have been issued. This is on top of increasing deployment of SPECS average speed cameras, particularly in the Brussels region. EU. A €2.2m grant is to finance a study into EETS – European Electronic Toll Service, specifically the inter-operability of electronic road tolls. Seven countries are involved: Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain. Says the release, ‘The project aims to kick-start the actual deployment of EETS, taking into account the perspective of full European coverage as final objective.’ BULGARIA/TURKEY. A dispute over transit permits is threatening to blow up into a full blown diplomatic incident. Turkey alleges Bulgaria has withheld 90% of the quota and is threatening to take the issue to the WTO. The result is long queues at the Kapitan Andreevo-Kapikule border crossing, and at others between Turkey and Greece as trucks divert. This is the latest in a long line of delays, for various reasons, on land crossings between the two countries.