EU leaders back Austria over ecopoints

Haulage industry furious as Laeken summit approves extension to lorry charging scheme

EU leaders meeting in the Belgian town of Laeken over the weekend have infuriated the road haulage industry by calling for an extension Austria's controversial ecopoint lorry permits scheme. The Commission could issue a proposal as early as this week, a spokesperson for EU transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio said today.

Austria managed to turn ecopoints into a summit issue by threatening to use its power of veto over the transport chapter of EU enlargement, which could have delayed the whole process. Under Austria's 1995 EU accession agreement, the scheme is supposed to lapse at the end of 2003, but it emerged in November that it might be extended (EED 26/11/01).

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