The Government has committed to Brussels to have the new toll system ready on all the country’s highways before June 30, 2022, in order to start applying it in 2024. This is stated in the Commission report European Union on the recovery plan of Spain, in which the Executive of Pedro Sánchez frames this review of the road payment system within a heading of reform of fiscal measures that contribute to the ecological transition.
Specifically, it points to “taxes or payments related to mobility, such as the introduction of road tolls and the revision of the tax figures that tax vehicle registration.” However, the Government further details this measure in the reform that plans to launch a Law on Sustainable Mobility and Transport Financing, with which it hopes to lay the foundations for a new mobility in Spain.
“The creation of a payment mechanism for the use of the State’s highways, which will begin to function from 2024, according to the principle of ‘polluter pays'”
“The creation of a payment mechanism for the use of the State’s highways, which will begin to function from 2024, in accordance with the principle of ‘whoever pollutes pays’,” the document states in an annex, as the Government has already advanced in the first document that he sent to Brussels in the framework of European aid.
“The objective of this measure is to internalize the external costs of road transport, creating incentives to achieve greater efficiency in this sector and promoting a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” he justifies.
However, this latest reform to establish a Sustainable Mobility Law will come to light later, specifically before December 31, 2023, as stated in the document. Therefore, depending on the reform in which the Government circumscribes the application of tolls, the definitive system that will entail the payment of tolls on all the country’s highways will be prepared either in 2022 or in 2023.
Two or three year margin
In a first document, the Executive, based on international experience, has already indicated that the minimum time necessary to develop the regulatory instruments and create the precise structure to implement a pay-per-use system at the national level is between two and three years.
Until then, the Executive plans to carry out a “awareness and sensitization” campaign on carriers and the population regarding the need to implement this measure, as stated in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan sent to Brussels.
However, the Government insists that it will seek social and political agreement to implement this measure, consulting with professional transporters, as well as with the autonomous communities and other administrations to determine the willingness of all to incorporate tolls on the roads under their ownership.
Regarding trucks and other heavy vehicles authorized for the transport of goods by road, the text clarifies that the necessary regulatory conditions will be promoted by the Administration so that the cost of the toll is assumed by the shippers, thus encouraging the search for sustainability and transport efficiency.
8 billion deficit
The main reason for the introduction of tolls, regardless of environmental criteria, is the large deficit that drags the conservation of the roads. “With a state network that exceeds 26,466 kilometers in length, of which about 12,000 are of high-capacity roads, which makes us have the most extensive in Europe, maintenance costs are increasing and it is not possible for them to be assumed directly by the budgetary resources “, indicates the text.
The Government also clarifies that the system could be “scalable and progressive”, that is, that it is initially charged only in the high capacity network (highways) and that it is progressively extended to other networks, thus opening the door to any road may be toll.
This progressivity in the application of the measure responds to the expected rejection that it will cause in the population. For this reason, he argues that “acceptable but guaranteeing financing” rates will be determined.
From the Association of Companies for the Conservation and Exploitation of Infrastructures (Acex) they defend that a toll of between 3 and 5 cents on average would be enough to end the deficit of 8,000 million that the conservation of the roads already accumulates.
Situation in Europe
Following the guidelines set out by Europe in the framework of the last great financial crisis, Portugal introduced tolls throughout its high-capacity network, not only for heavy vehicles, as required by Brussels, but for all of them, including light ones, that is, to all the citizens.
In Spain, far from introducing tolls, policies have gone in the opposite direction, in not renewing concessions that were coming to an end, which has made it possible to free from tolls several highways that are now free. In addition to Portugal, in France and Italy, pay-per-use prevails, while in Germany all motorways are free.
The implementation of an average toll in Spain of 4 cents per kilometer would mean a payment of 9 euros to go from Madrid to Burgos, 12 euros to travel between the capital and Zaragoza, about 14 euros to go to Valencia, 15 to Córdoba, 16 euros to Badajoz or 22 euros to La Coruña.