This campaign is working hard to bring about a fair deal for the motorist. The government wants us to believe that it stands for ending the war on the motorist, but it faces a challenge from Europe.


The Sunday Express carried a story on 22 August 2010.

There are three burning issues, none of which have been given much publicity:

·       The European Union (EU) regards many major regional and national transport routes as of Europe-wide significance. It is seeking to get the management and control of these ‘Trans European Networks’ transferred to its administrative body, the European Commission, and other committees. They would not be answerable to voters in the UK.

·       The EU wishes to introduce road pricing across Europe. The reasons given are mostly environmental, although it would also be to pay for its military Galileo satellites. The immediate focus is on freight (lorries) and major routes.

·       Proposed European legislation has been amended to include road pricing for cars as well as lorries. The European Parliament is shortly to debate this.


The UK government has been considering road pricing for lorries. One reason given is that it might level the playing field with foreign freight operators, who buy cheaper fuel abroad and don’t pay UK road tax.


However, using road pricing income to subsidise freight operators that buy fuel in the UK might count as ‘discrimination’ and be illegal under EU law. Making foreign operators buy a ‘Brit Disc’ to drive in the UK has already been ruled illegal.


There is also the possible drawback that charging lorries more to use British roads might result in dearer goods in shops, as costs get passed onto consumers.


Road pricing is not exactly popular in the UK – in 2007, 1.8 million people signed an online petition against it. Apart from the cost, there were objections to having personal movements tracked. The current UK government has ruled it out for cars in this Parliament.


However, as transport decisions in the EU are now made by a form of majority voting, the UK government might be outvoted if other countries wanted to pass a Directive, for instance, requiring road pricing for cars or the take-up of particular tracking technology. As membership of the EU does not allow powers transferred to the EU to be taken back, the UK would either have to accept such a decision or leave the EU.


On 2 August 2010, the UK Department for Transport website announced a public consultation on the EU’s plans for major routes. The consultation period is very short in the main summer holiday period – the deadline was to be 10 September! 


For some reason, the consultation document does not mention road pricing when discussing the in-vehicle technology (Intelligent Transport Systems, ITS) that the EU wants to adopt, although it mentions other uses, such as traffic management.


It does, however, give extensive lists and maps of the routes (air, sea and rail as well as roads) and ports that might become controlled at EU level. All regions of the UK are affected.


The DFT consultation document admits to uncertainty over the power the European Commission is seeking through ‘Article 290’ of the EU Treaty. This is potentially far-reaching.


The Number Ten website talks of giving ‘power to the public’. The UK government should have matched its words with a full and open debate on this controversial topic.



The consultation is over, but you can check for updates:

The ‘TEN-T Policy Review’ was carried out by EIBRD, the European and International Division at the Department for Transport (address: Zone 2/23, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DR).


Watch out for developments relating to the EU White Paper on Transport (out 28.3.11), part of a set of documents that threatens drastic measures. Also the ‘Eurovignette’ Directive proposals (out 6.6.11). The latter concern lorries, but with an eye to charging for ‘all modes’ of road transport. NB: The various documents are written in glowing language and need to be read with a firm ‘spin warning’.


Why not lobby your MP, at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA?




Department for Transport (UK) – Consultation Paper with lists and maps of routes affected http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/DFT-2010-31/


EU Presidency and European Parliament looking at road pricing for cars as well as lorries



EU general blueprint for main routes, air, sea and land – is in several documents, mainly Common Transport Policy, European Commission Consultation on Trans European Network - Transport Policy. Useful starting point: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/transport/intermodality_transeuropean_networks/l24481_en.htm


The road pricing (‘ITS’) technology blueprint is diversely covered in

European Commission documents COM(2008) 436, 886, 887; 

SEC(2008) 304 covers the ‘EU right to act’







ABD manifesto

Campaign index


Justice for over-taxed motorists

 ‘Fair Deal’ home page



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