Belgium's motorways to apply tolls from 2013
Belgium is to tax cars using its motorways and hit hauliers with tolls by the kilometre to boost the coffers of its haggling federal states, a regional budget minister announced Wednesday.
The plan had been under discussion for years but until now no agreement could be found on how to split revenues between Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, the three federal regions.
Wallonia's budget minister Andre Antoine told officials the split would see Flanders pick up 52 percent, Wallonia 38 percent and Brussels 10 percent.
He said existing fixed-period passes for lorries would also be replaced by 2013 with "a system of tolls based on the actual number of kilometres covered", local media reported
Bar codes likely bought online will be scanned when entering tolls with attendant police and other electronic controls envisaged under a system still to be defined in full detail, but which is to enter into force in 2013, going by previous versions of the plans.
The likes of France, Spain and Italy already have highly-developed, privatised paying motorway networks, with driving through Switzerland or Austria also requiring the advance purchase of stickers to be displayed on windscreens.
Germany applies tolls to lorries but like Belgium to-date, England or Scotland's motorways are toll-free although certain bridges or cities there involve carriage or congestion charges.
Belgian authorities argue that Belgian drivers are already indirectly taxed to use roads, but that foreign or through-put use is not charged -- while contributing to damage requiring upkeep.
Belgium's motorways, some 2,000 kilometres long, are state-owned and lit by public coffers.
The Dutch previously complained about the idea, which would harm drivers aiming for southern Europe.
The level of the tax has still to be finalised, but Wallonia has estimated it could raise 25 million euros there.
Brussels regional environment minister Evelyne Huytebroeck said that tax levels could vary in order to encourage low-pollution vehicles, as well as discounts for low earners.
© 2011 AFP