Germany Rejects EU Road Toll Plan

For the second time in short succession, Germany puts the kibosh on EU plans for a standard road toll system.

Also, rounding up the latest on the Calais migrant crisis. 2015 really was a bumper year for P&O freight. A French politician has a cunning plan to abolish low level speeding fines. Switzerland names the date for referendum on second Gotthard Tunnel.

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GERMANY REJECTS EU-WIDE ROAD TOLL

Impasse over German ‘foreigner toll’ and EU plans for uniform road charging.

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Dobrindt, left and Bulc, centre, last year. Photo @Bulc_EU

An invitation to join the up-coming EU road toll system has been rebuffed in short measure by Germany.

In an interview with newspaper Die Welt last week, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc again floated the idea of a uniform European pay-as-you-go road toll system, and invited Germany to join.

‘We need a European solution for road user charges,’ she said. ‘Many different toll systems are a barrier to mobility in the internal market.’

However, in the same publication on Friday, German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt dismissed the idea due to the ‘additional burden’ it would place on German drivers.

The German government has been long keen not to impose any ‘additional burden’ on its drivers, hence the road toll it does want will only be paid be foreigners.

Meanwhile, the European Commission opened infringement proceedings against the so-called ‘foreigner toll’ (‘Auslander Maut’) last May, alleging discrimination.

According to details in the Die Welt article, the Commission requested further information on the toll in December and expects a reply by February.

@DriveEurope exclusively revealed details on Bulc’s EU toll in November. A final proposal is expected in June, though the system will surely struggle without the Germans.

Ironically, or not, a previous plan for an EU road toll – put forward by Bulc’s predecessor Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas – finally foundered in 2014 because, he said, ‘Time and again… strong Member State and industry interests together adopt a purely national, short-term perspective.’

This was believed to be a reference to Germany which was in the early stages of pursuing the ‘foreigner toll’.

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Police in Calais have taken delivery of three VBRG – Véhicules Blindés à Roues de la Gendarmerie – armoured vehicles to help deal with a repeat of any migrant riots on the Calais port road and A16 autoroute reports Nord Littoral. They do not have any armaments as such but are equipped with tear gas units. In other news, a migrant was been sentenced to six months in jail on Friday for throwing stones at police near The Jungle last week reports La Voix du Nord. Also, a new section of the camp – composed of shipping containers – was shown to journalists today. Set to house 1500 people, down from the current 5000+, it is 100 meters from the sensitive port access road. The remaining migrants will be dispersed around the country, or to a new permanent facility up the road at Grand Synthe near Dunkirk, if it gets planning permission reports the Daily Mail (now granted says MSF). Finally, the British government is under pressure to increase security at Dover-Calais after a man involved in the Paris Attacks crossed between the UK and France last year despite being on a watch list. ‘It would appear extremists perceive the ferry border to be a weak link,’ shadow home secretary Andy Burnham told The Guardian. Any new measures would come on top of already enhanced checks in the wake of the attack, and new Exit Checks from the UK brought in last year.

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roundup: CHANNEL FREIGHT. Despite the migrant crisis and MyFerryLink blockade, as predicted it was indeed a bumper year for P&O freight on the Dover-Calais route. The operator carried 1.34 million units, up 22% on 2014, with record third and fourth quarters (the two most affected by the trouble in Calais). Demand is also expected to increase further said the company in a statement. FRANCE. A Senator wants to abolish speeding fines for offences of less than 10kmh over the limit, but retain the licence point penalty reports France Bleu. Alan Fouche from Vienne in the Rhone Valley (backed by campaign group 40 Million Automobilistes) says it would remove drivers’ suspicion that fines were merely revenue raising by the authorities. SWITZERLAND. Voters have their say on the government’s plan to build a second Gotthard Tunnel tube on 28 February according to Swissinfo.ch. The idea is to build a second tunnel to use only while the original is refurbished in a project which will take until the middle of the next decade to complete (whereupon the second tube will be used as an escape route). However, the opposition is fierce, well organised and won a previous referendum on the issue. It might help that transport minister Doris revealed today (via TCS) that the EU will not require both tunnels to be kept open. One of the main concerns is that more traffic would damage the Alpine environment.

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