Fuel rises Italy + Switzerland – medal winning Mercs

Hefty fuel duty increases in Italy and Switzerland, and possibly Spain too, plus a roundup of Continental prices. Sochi winners get brand new Mercedes in Moscow’s Red square. Gibraltar queue watch, history spat in Porsche’s home town, Berlin traffic boost, crazy remote driving vid Spain, plus final Saimaa Canal tragedy findings.

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UP, UP, UP: FUEL PRICES IN ITALY & SWITZERLAND.

A snapshot of fuel prices around Europe.

Italy, May 2013. Unleaded already at €1.69 with no sign of coming down since.

Italy, May 2013. Unleaded already at €1.69 with no sign of coming down since.

An increase on Saturday (1 March) means Italy will rank behind just Croatia for the highest fuel tax in Europe.

While the Croatian treasury takes 60.6% of the price in duty, Italy now reaches 60.5%. The European average is 47.9% according to business association CGIA Mestre.

But while unleaded 95 sells for €1.345 in Croatia, and diesel for €1.266, for the past few years fuel in Italy has been among the Continent’s most expensive.

The national average price for unleaded 95 is now €1.769, the third highest in Europe behind Norway (€1.854) and the Netherlands (€1.787) according to www.fuel-prices-europe.info (Belgium has recently fallen slightly to average €1.614).

For diesel, Italy now edges up into second place (€1.679) after Norway (€1.722) and ahead of the UK (€1.656).

Meanwhile – following the Swiss government’s defeat in a referendum over raising the price of the annual motorway vignette to pay for road improvements – transport minister Doris Leuthard says she will increase fuel duty by 15 cents per litre instead.

This is considerably more than the 9c per litre rise she hinted at shortly before the vote in November, a claim that drew accusations of scaremongering at the time.

Fuel in Switzerland is currently relatively cheap by western European standards at €1.367/l for unleaded and €1.478/l for diesel.

A rise of 15c per litre (around €0.12) still has unleaded in the European mid-table, cheaper than neighbouring France (€1.495) and Germany (€1.562) but catapulting it way ahead of Austria (€1.390)

However, the same rise for diesel would put it at fourth most expensive, considerably more than Germany (€1.408) France (€1.319) and Austria (€1.320). You wonder whether the fuel retailers, concerned about cross border leakage, will wear it. It’s not going down too well with citizens either.

Finally, Spain is in hot water over a ‘health tax’ it levies on fuel to pay for the public health system. The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that the ‘centimo sanitario’ was illegal and ordered the €13bn revenues raised 2002-11 to be returned.

The government says it will heed the ruling and is analysing the impact on its finances.

With unleaded currently selling for €1.407 and diesel at €1.361 (compared to Portugal’s €1.614 and €1.414, not mentioning Andorra’s €1.249 and €1.139) there’s considerable local wiggle room for a distinctly unhealthy tax rise to compensate.

All prices from Saturday 1 March, per litre for unleaded 95 and regular diesel.

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Each of Team Russia’s Winter Olympics medal winners were given a brand new Mercedes today. Forty five cars were handed out in total - a GL-Class for gold, ML for silver and GLK for bronze - by prime minister Dmitry Medvedev at a ceremony on Vasilyevsky Spusk (descent) between Red Square and the Moskva river. Child prodigy figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia, too young to drive, was a also given a chauffeur.

Each of Team Russia’s Winter Olympics medal winners were given a brand new Mercedes today. Forty five cars were handed out in total – a GL-Class for gold, ML for silver and GLK for bronze – by prime minister Dmitry Medvedev at a ceremony on Vasilyevsky Spusk (descent) between Red Square and the Moskva river. Child prodigy figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia, too young to drive, also got a chauffeur.

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roundup: GIBRALTAR QUEUE WATCH. Delays topped two hours this afternoon. SPAIN. Unbelievable video of a young lad driving his car at motorway speeds, including overtaking a truck, from the passenger seat. FINLAND. Neither the weather nor the state of the road were to blame for the accident last weekend along the Saimaa Canal in Russia that claimed ten lives says the official report of the Finnish Ministry of Transport. The Saimaa strip is leased from the Russian government. CZECH REPUBLIC. The hometown of Ferdinand Porsche – Vratislavice nad Nisou in what is now the northern Czech Republic – is embroiled in an ongoing controversy about whether to honour its famous son. A new exhibition is due to open in May. BERLIN. City centre traffic could be due for a boost if the road beside the British Embassy is finally reopened to cars. Wilhelmstrasse is a key link road from the bottom of Unter den Linden and the Brandenburg Gate but was closed in 2003 at the start of the Iraq War over security fears.

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