The Government maintains among its plans the implementation of a new financing system for highways, which includes payment for use. A system that must have political consensus, which allows its approval in Congress, also socially and with the different operators in the sector, according to sources from the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda.
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This system runs parallel to the Law on Sustainable Mobility, the preliminary draft of which was approved on Tuesday by the Council of Ministers. The text now opens its public consultation phase, which the Government expects to last a couple of months, so that it reaches the Cortes before the end of the year and the Law is approved before the end of 2023.
This text is a commitment with Brussels, for the reception of European funds, and does not include as such the charge for the use of roads, but its implementation is contemplated.
Specifically, the Preliminary Bill “empowers the Government to carry out a study of alternatives to establish a financing mechanism that makes it possible to guarantee the necessary funds for the correct maintenance of the State Highway Network”, whose deficit, in the maintenance of the roads, the Ministry estimates it to be around 8,000 million euros.
“The text does not define or specify any model, and also establishes that the mechanism that is proposed must take into account criteria of territorial equity, road safety and environmental sustainability,” they indicate from the portfolio headed by Raquel Sánchez. And, again, they point out that the system “will seek a broad social and political consensus and will adjust to economic circumstances.”
But the fact that it is included in the Preliminary Draft as an option does not prevent it from already being on the table, being analyzed. “The Ministry has already begun to work on the initial ideas of the study of different solutions”, indicate the aforementioned sources.
An approach that was already made at the negotiating table with the carriers in December, to stop the strike prior to Christmas. “There will be a debate, it will be participatory and consensus will be sought. It will not wait for the Law to be there,” they add. Instead, they do not break down what approaches or alternatives are being considered.
Commitment to carriers
In addition, if it is launched, it will allow carriers to transfer the cost to the final price they charge their customers.
“We maintain the commitment with the carriers, who are the weakest link, with less negotiating capacity in the chain,” they indicate from the Ministry. “They have little ability to transfer production costs to prices, when they have to work losing money we have an economic and social problem,” they add.
For this reason, they add, if a new cost is included in the system, the way to balance it is that it is mandatory for carriers to transfer it.
Taxes in low emission zones
The preliminary draft law also opens the door for municipalities to activate fees for driving in areas with low polluting emissions.
In this way, the municipalities have the option of starting a rate of “vehicle circulation in low emission zones”. But it will be each administration that decides and applies its powers.
“To create this rate, authorization with the rank of law is necessary, which makes it possible to guarantee that the basic conditions are homogeneous throughout the territory, although each municipality may decide whether to implement the rate or not.” At the moment, they indicate from the Ministry, Barcelona is one of the consistories that has shown its interest in launching a rate of these characteristics.