Anglo-German accord on road fuel taxes

Period of high fuel prices has "only highlighted" underlying issues for hauliers, say ministers

Europe's road haulage industry should accept that its economic problems stem from deep-seated economic factors rather than high fuel taxes, according to German and British transport ministers. Following a meeting in Saarbrücken on Sunday, Reinhard Klimmt and Gus MacDonald said that the current high fuel prices had "only highlighted" underlying issues that were "complex and deep-rooted and included social problems".

The two ministers identified illegal use of drivers from countries outside the EU as a key example of these types of problems. They called on the European Commission to submit new legislative proposals "as quickly as possible" to clamp down on the practice. In addition, the Commission should come forward with proposals to create a new European road haulage forum to discuss how to enforce existing EU regulations, the ministers said.

The joint statement follows protests against high fuel taxes that swept western Europe in September, leading to concessions by several governments (ENDS Daily 21 September). Germany has so far stood firm in its intention to continue raising fuel taxes above inflation under the government's ecological tax reform programme. The UK has also resisted the protesters demands, though some concessions are expected to emerge tomorrow when the finance ministry unveils its first outline of next year's annual budget.

Follow Up:
UK transport ministry, tel: +44 20 79 44 30 00, and press release; German transport ministry, tel: +49 30 20080, and press release.

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