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Regions to negotiate with Brussels over congestion charge

21:04 24/05/2021

Brussels’ plan to introduce a kilometre-based congestion tax will be debated by the representatives from the federal and regional governments this week, amid strong opposition from neighbouring regions.

The Brussels government will once again introduce the SmartMove project, including the smart mileage tax, to the consultative committee this Wednesday, the region’s finance minister Sven Gatz confirmed.

The committee had asked the Brussels government to propose a working method for the consultation on SmartMove, a project which is meeting a lot of resistance in Flanders and Wallonia. A central working group was set up in December, as well as four subgroups responsible for focusing on aspects of taxation, mobility, economy/employment and the environment.

Gatz acknowledged that many legal concerns had been raised in the work subgroups. For example, is SmartMove compatible with European legislation? A first formal consultation took place on the SmartMove reform with the Commission’s mobility directorate at the end of April. Gatz said that the European administration’s response was "very positive".

A certain number of other preoccupations have yet to be agreed upon, such as the impact of SmartMove on transport networks in Flanders and Wallonia, the capacity of alternatives to private cars, the need to take into account additional modelling work carried out by the Flemish region, the SmartMove socio-economic impact on Flemish and Walloon passengers and the local environmental impact of the transfer of traffic to the ring and the periphery.

The proposed congestion charge is t a tax on usage rather than the possession of a car. It will consist of a base amount which will increase by variable amounts depending on the number of kilometres driven, the time the journey took place, and the power of the vehicle.

The model's objective is to reduce car use by 25% in the capital by 2030, lowering the economic impact car traffic has on the capital while improving air quality.

With the SmartMove technology, once the vehicle has been registered, recognition of the licence plate by roadside cameras will lead to a rate of payment being calculated according to the distance travelled, the time of travel and the power of the vehicle based on the data transmitted.

The Brussels government has not revealed exact pricing yet but what is known is that drivers will have to pay for weekdays, during the day, but not during weekends or evenings, beyond 19.00.

The Brussels government hopes that SmartMove can enter into force sometime in 2022.

Written by Richard Harris

Comments

Frank Lee

Here's a better idea to reduce car use in Brussels: let's all move out!

May 26, 2021 18:41