A Senior European politician has caused outrage by calling for computers to be fitted in all European cars as part of an EU wide road pricing system.
Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said the current system which is decided by national parliaments was “a burden on car drivers and an obstacle to their mobility” she told German newspaper ‘World on Sunday’.
Ahead of a visit to Berlin, Bulc said it would make sense, in the medium term, to work on a European-wide system for cars and lorries which would harmonise road charges across EU countries. Her proposal, she said, was that “the amount of the fee should, in my opinion, be exclusively based on the number of kilometres actually driven and should not be time-dependent.” This fits in with the Green agenda of making people drive more slowly and even limiting the speed cars are allowed to reach to keep the engine fuel efficient.
Germany plans to introduce a controversial road toll in 2016 which would specifically target foreign drivers using the Autobahn’s. While German drivers would also pay the toll, they would be compensated with a reduction in any existing motoring taxes. This is similar to a proposal put forward by UKIP where foreign drivers, specifically lorries, would pay a surcharge for using Britain’s roads since they don’t contribute towards their upkeep.
However, such plans are contrary to EU laws on non discrimination on grounds of race, and the German government is embroiled in a dispute with Brussels about whether their plan is compatible with EU law.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from – everyone will only pay for the distance they have actually driven and it will be billed on a device throughout Europe. We’re currently investigating just such an idea” Bulc added.
“There are many options – a fee could be obligatory but it’s also possible to make it optional i.e. that countries decide themselves whether and on which roads they want to levy a road use charge based on kilometres driven.”
But her comments were slammed by UKIP transport spokesman Jill Seymour MEP, who said that the British people had “repeatedly rejected government attempts to introduce pay-by-the-mile road schemes.”
“Yet look how the EU overrides the democratic decision of the British people: an unelected Slovenian bureaucrat in Brussels announces in a German newspaper interview that she wants to force all British drivers to fit computers in their cars which will count every mile they drive.”
“Britain will be forced into an EU-wide scheme in which Commissioner Bulc will force all drivers to pay for using our own roads, and the money will go straight to Brussels.”
“This would be outrageous on three counts. First, it would be the imposition of a tax on tens of millions of UK citizens without the consent or control of parliament. Second, the money raised would not go to HM Treasury but to the bureaucrats in Brussels who would then undemocratically decide how the money would be spent on their own EU road schemes. Third, the idea that every British car would be fitted with a high-tech computer tracking every trip a driver makes is an invasion of privacy which we cannot tolerate.”
“The Cameron-Clegg government may insist the government has no plans to introduce road pricing, but EU directives going back to 1999 have already put the structures in place for EU-wide road pricing,” said Seymour.
One of the proposals much mooted for road pricing was to fund the funding black hole that is the Galileo satellite ‘spy in the sky’ launched by the European Union and the European Space Agency as an alternative to the US GPS system. €5billion of tax payers money has already gone into the project, but with two similar systems already on the market the investment from private companies was not forthcoming, leaving eurocrats looking for new revenue streams.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The Government is very clear that we will not introduce any road charging scheme and there are no plans to change vehicle excise duty.”
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