The EESC strongly supports the European Commission's proposal on the interoperability of electronic road toll systems. Such road toll systems have already been introduced at national, regional or local level in 20 Member States. However, the poor interoperability of the systems at international level incurs considerable revenue losses for Member States, as well as additional costs for direct road users. The EESC encourages Member States to pursue active cross-border cooperation when developing advanced road tolling mechanisms. A lack of cooperation means that Member States have no way of identifying specific offenders if their vehicles are registered abroad.
The EESC is strongly convinced that every possible effort should be made to introduce a uniform electronic road toll system throughout the EU, based on advanced technology. Therefore the on-board unit (OBU), which is the key component in an electronic toll system, need not be a single physical device. It could be a number of physically or remotely linked devices, including smart phones and tablets, which together perform the functions of an OBU. The EESC recommends encouraging the development of special IT applications for these purposes, which would significantly reduce costs for road users.
Some Member States have already been using different road toll collection technologies, and it would be very expensive for them to transfer to a uniform system. The EESC therefore recommends that the European Commission look for flexible financial, technical and legal instruments to encourage Member States to seek to integrate the various existing solutions into one interoperable system.
The EESC supports the initiative to introduce a single contract with the European Electronic Toll Service Provider (EETS) for all EU users. This will help to implement more transparent and user-friendly practices.
Finally, the Committee considers the social aspects of the European Commission's proposal of crucial importance, due to the fact that SMEs and micro-enterprises predominate in the road haulage sector throughout the EU.