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Majority of Europeans support 'pay as you go' driving scheme

by Emilie Binois for EurActiv France and autoactu.com

The majority of Europeans would be happy if the EU brought in a 'pay as you drive' scheme, according to a Eurobarometer study commissioned by the European Commission in preparation for its White Paper on transport, published on Tuesday.

The purpose of the study was to assess the popularity of one of the EU executive's proposals, which is to internalise all costs of driving, such as congestion, noise pollution and accidents, and to make people pay for the services they actually use. It also proposes to introduce speed limits for commercial vehicles and speed-limiting devices for private cars. According to the poll, half of Europeans are in favour of such a move.

The new system would replace the current 'flat rate' of registration and road tax, which do not take into account at what time or how often a driver uses a vehicle, nor the noise and pollution levels of the vehicle.

In this, the proposal resembles the Eurovignette scheme, which affects heavy trucks and is currently being used on roads in Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden, reports EurActiv France. However, if it were to be adopted, this scheme would go even further, in that it would actually replace current taxation schemes. To be adopted by member states, it would have to provide high enough tax revenues to offset revenue losses.

This is particularly critical as car use in West European countries is decreasing annually and therefore, in a pay-as-you-drive system, revenue would also fall.

Some 50% of the respondents supported the new scheme; 16% were 'strongly' in favour; 31% were opposed to such a system and of these, 13% were 'strongly against' it. A little under 20% of respondents were undecided.

Car and van users were more likely to oppose replacing existing road taxes with a pay-as-you-drive system (37% as opposed to 24% of public transport users).

Amongst car users, respondents from Luxembourg, Italy, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Belgium were the most favourable to a pay-as-you-drive system.

Encouragingly, 62% of Europeans are also prepared to buy smaller vehicles to benefit the environment, while 56% would be happy to compromise on a car's range, for example by buying electric cars that are still more dependent on the necessary infrastructure, such as charging stations, being put in place.

Not surprisingly perhaps, EU citizens were least likely (54%) to say they would be willing to compromise on purchase price to reduce emissions.

The EU's transport strategy is based on a European Commission White Paper, initially presented in 2001, which proposed 60 measures to overhaul the EU's transport policy in order to make it more sustainable and avoid huge economic losses caused by congestion, pollution and accidents and was later updated to meet economic objectives. 

autoactu.com

1st April 2011




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