TODAY: the EU’s new Transport Commissioner is briefed to make sure road charges are ‘non-discriminatory’. That sounds like bad news for Germany’s upcoming ‘foreigners-only toll’.
NEWBIE GETS TOP JOB AT EU’S TRANSPORT COMMISSION
Bad news for German ‘foreigner toll’? New Commissioner to pursue ‘non-discriminatory’ road charging.
Predictions for the next EU Transport Commissioner were almost exactly two hundred miles out.
In the new line up, unveiled this lunchtime, Jean-Claude Juncker has given the transport portfolio to Maros Sefcovic from Slovakia instead of, as rumoured, Vera Jourova from the Czech Republic.
Like Jourova, Sefcovic seems to have little to no experience in transport.
According to his CV, Sefcovic studied economics before joining the diplomatic service. He was formerly the Ambassador to Israel then Permanent Representative to the European Union.
He is currently Commissioner for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration and Health and Consumer Policy – with responsibility for ‘building consensus between EU institutions on major policies’ – and also described as ‘right hand man’ to out-going Commission President Barroso.
Apart from one interesting phrase, Juncker’s road transport brief sounds very much like business as usual: to reduce transport’s greenhouse gas emissions; develop the ‘innovative financial instruments’ newly allowed under the Connecting Europe Facility to leverage private investment in the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T) and – the now aging chestnut – ‘developing policies to foster a cross transport approach increasingly based on a “user-pays” philosophy, on a non-discriminatory basis’.
While German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt may have heaved a sigh of relief that the new commissioner was not from one of the countries actively campaigning against his upcoming ‘foreigner toll’ – on the apparent basis it is discriminatory – the use ‘non-discriminatory’ allied to road charges might be seen as a shot across the bows.
As the transport job now includes Space, Sefcovic wll also be responsible for the troubled Galileo Satellite Navigation system. Presuming he passes muster with the European Parliament, he will assume office on 1 November.