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Belgium must discourage use of cars, says Commission
Belgium must urgently address traffic congestion and discourage the use of cars if it is to meet its targets for air pollution, according to an analysis carried out by the European Commission. The study looked at the extent to which member states were progressing towards the targets set and the major challenges they face.
The section on Belgium covers matters such as nature and biodiversity, green space, air and water quality and noise pollution. According to the report, Belgium’s main challenges relate to air quality and levels of fine particles and nitrogen oxides. Air quality could be improved by tackling the traffic situation, the Commission said.
The country also needs to address water pollution by urban waste water and by run-off from agricultural sources. “Belgium is the most congested country in Europe in terms of lost working hours and delays, especially around Antwerp and Brussels,” the report reads.
In Flanders, 75% of all commuters travel by car, while 78.5% of all journeys are made by car. Belgium also pays out the most of all the members of the OECD in subsidies for company cars, which account for €3.75 billion a year in lost income, according to the report.
Belgium should also concentrate on environmental taxation, where it is second-lowest in the EU, above France. In 2014, Belgium’s environmental taxes accounted for only 2% of GDP, compared to an EU average of 2.5%.
That leaves Belgium some margin for shifting the burden of taxation from labour to pollution. By 2018, the report forecasts, environmental taxes could raise an extra €3.5 billion, rising to nearly €7 billion by 2030.
Photo: Dirk Waem/BELGA