The Ministry of Transport trusts that the European Commission will agree to withdraw from the Recovery Plan the Spanish Government’s initial proposal to introduce payment for the use of hitherto free highways from 2024. The elimination of this measure has been included in the addendum to the plan sent to Brussels. The services of the Community Executive continue to evaluate this point despite the fact that the deadline to issue their verdict ended on September 6.
This was stated by sources from the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda in the presentation this Wednesday of the informal ministerial meeting of Transport of the European Union that will take place on September 22 in Barcelona. The acting minister herself, Raquel Sánchez, indicated on Tuesday that she is “optimistic” that the European Commission will accept the “alternative proposals” that the Government has proposed to not introduce tolls on the highways, as it had promised in the first version. of the national recovery plan.
On the occasion of her intervention to explain the priorities of the Spanish presidency before the Transport Committee of the European Parliament, the minister reiterated that “the will” of the Spanish Executive is “not to apply any pay-per-use system on highways”, and stressed that “the conditions that existed at the time this measure was proposed are not the same as today.” “We know that the Commission is analyzing, we know that we can share that criterion and that analysis and, of course, that shared vision allows us to be optimistic,” she stated.
The Minister of Transport reiterated to questions from Ciudadanos MEP José Ramón Bauzá on this issue, that “the Government of Spain is not going to implement any payment system for use on the roads”, and added that “it has never been said that it was a requirement of the European Union.” Furthermore, he stressed that this matter “is being negotiated within the framework of the addendum to the recovery plan”, in conversations in which Brussels and the Government are “advancing other proposals that may allow the same objective without a system” of tolls. .
The commitment to tolls is included in the Spanish recovery plan within milestone number 3, according to which Spain must create “a payment mechanism for the use of State roads, which will begin to operate from 2024, in accordance with the “polluter pays” principle, as the plan document reads. This milestone is linked, specifically, to the payment of the sixth tranche of the recovery fund, for which Spain would receive 8,000 million euros.
But the Government, within the framework of the addendum to the recovery plan, presented to Brussels “a series of alternative proposals”, in the words of the minister, which are “along the lines of reinforcing many measures that have already been applied”, such as “encourage rail transport” or “also encourage public transport”.
Precisely, this Tuesday Brussels published a report on the progress of the recovery fund in all the countries of the bloc and stressed that Spain has requested to modify a series of milestones and objectives because there are “objective circumstances” that prevent it from undertaking them, although without identifying which ones. . If the European Commission approves the revised recovery plan, Spain will have access to another €84 billion in credits and €10 billion in new transfers that will be added to the €70 billion already available.
Summit in Barcelona
The Transport Ministers of the European Union (EU) will approve this Friday in Barcelona a declaration with the political commitment to continue advancing in mobility policies always prioritizing “the needs of the people”, government sources have explained. The modernist site of Sant Pau will host the informal meeting of Transport Ministers, within the framework of the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, for which they have chosen as the axis the value of “mobility and transport as tools of social cohesion.” and territorial”.
It is expected that the agreed text, which will be called the “Barcelona Declaration”, talks about promoting “an integrated mobility system” that ensures solutions also for territories with less population, a model that also requires “the collaboration of national, regional and local” in the so-called “Barcelona Declaration”, government sources have advanced.
This week, in the European Parliament, Minister Sánchez already announced that the Barcelona meeting will discuss “mobility and transport as a key element for the territorial and social cohesion of the EU” and a “smart mobility strategy to achieve effective mobility.” throughout the EU and also in those areas with more orographic difficulties.” She ruled out, however, that the possible implementation of a minimum price for airline tickets would be discussed in that informal meeting. “It is not a matter that will be discussed in the informal council of ministers in Barcelona. It is a proposal that we hear about but of which we do not know any details,” declared Sánchez, who highlighted that it would be a “complex proposal due to its legal fit and its impact on the aviation sector.”
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