NEWS: The European Commission does not share other’s certainty that the German ‘foreigner vignette’ is discriminatory. Meanwhile, campaigns in neighbouring countries are stepping up.
Also, the European Commission launches an easy-to-use app of all the road rules around Europe. Fuel contamination caused a mass breakdown in Luxembourg at the weekend. Romania’s Transalpina road may not open this year.
GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: no delays all day then slowly building to 1h15 mid-afternoon.
EU LOOKS KINDLY ON GERMAN ‘FOREIGNER VIGNETTE’
Commission not sure tramp stamp is discriminatory.
Many observers are convinced the German foreigner vignette is discriminatory in principle, and thus against European law, but the European Commission says it ‘needs to see the details’.
Transport minister Alexander Dobrindt yesterday spelt out his plans for the foreigner vignette at a news conference in Berlin.
It starts in 2016, applies to all vehicles up to 3.5t – possibly even motorbikes – and to all public roads, not just the national network as thought previously. It will cost €10 for ten days or €20 for two months. An annual vignette sticker will be also be available at a price depending on the ‘characteristics of the vehicle’ (expected to be around €100 on average). The sticker will be sold over the internet and probably also petrol stations.
Many commentators, including the FIA, said immediately the vignette was discriminatory because it will not be paid directly by German motorists (who will have their vehicle taxes reduced to compensate). But this reckons without the similar UK Foreign Truck Levy introduced successfully this year, and without the series of meetings Dobrindt has held with the European Commission.
In a statement, transport commissioner Siim Kallas said, ‘We see many positive elements in the concepts outlined by the Minister today, but until all the details are known and discussed there can be no green or red light from Brussels. Now it’s time to sit down and hammer out the detail…
[Vignettes] should not be directly aimed at discriminating of foreign drivers. Everybody should pay a fair share for using and maintaining roads. The Minister appears to try to take this into account, but we would need to see the details.’
Meanwhile, both the Danish and Dutch FIA-affiliated ANWB motoring clubs have set up campaign groups against the vignette while the Austrian transport minister also reiterated yesterday that the move would face legal action.
UPDATE 12:30: The Dutch ANWB motoring club has already collected over 10,000 signatures against the German toll plan while, according to a report in thelocal.dk, the Danish government (and other political parties), are currently considering a suitable response, even a foreigner toll of their own. Meanwhile, however, the UK’s AA seems entirely unaware of the issue. A spokesman told @DriveEurope this lunchtime, ‘It’s not something that has darkened our doorstep yet.’
UPDATE 9 July, 14:00: the Dutch petition has now been signed by over 17,300 drivers. We also asked the UK’s RAC for a comment but have yet to hear back.
roundup: LUXEMBOURG. Water contamination was to blame for a spate of simultaneous breakdowns on the A6 motorway on Sunday. Nine drivers had just filled up at the Q8 services at Capellen to the west of Luxembourg City when their engines died. Water had seeped into the underground tanks. Q8 says the problem is now solved. Meanwhile a tanker driver had 500 litres of diesel stolen overnight from Aire de Berchem on the A3. ROMANIA. It’s nearby (lower) colleague Transfagarasan may have opened already but the local and national roads authorities are still arguing over whether to open the Transalpina high altitude road this year. Work is unfinished following a financial scandal rendering the 2145m DN67C dangerous in places.