European transport commissioner Neil Kinnock yesterday reached consensus with Swiss transport minister Moritz Leuenberger on the outlines of an agreement on land-based transport systems. It will cover harmonisation of weight limits for road traffic, charging, rail infrastructure and services, safeguard clauses and improved market access. However, discussion on precise levels of charging and size of immediate access quotas is set to continue. The talks have been sharpened by a Swiss proposal to replace a present ban on lorries weighing more than 28 tonnes with a charging scheme for traffic on its Alpine routes (ENDS Daily 25 February). EU member states Austria and France have complained of increased heavy lorry traffic on their roads as a result of the ban, which they say will not be solved by the introduction of onerous charges. Bilateral talks are also underway on air transport.
European Commission, tel: +32 2 295 1111. Swiss federal office for transport, tel: +41 31 322 5711.
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