Thursday, October 9, 2014

France Backs Down to Freight and Road Haulage Interests over HGV Tax

First Ecotaxe Dumped Now Replacement Duty Joins it in the Bin
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – The French Ministry of Transport has announced that it will suspend indefinitely the planned HGV Transit Tax, after the country’s road freight associations threatened industrial action. The Transit Tax, which would have been implemented in the first few months of 2015, applied to any HGV's, French or foreign, exceeding 3.5 tonnes using the 4000 kilometre network designated by the State. It was meant to replace the ill-fated ‘Ecotaxe’ aimed at haulage groups which, after being postponed twice, eventually met its demise last year when peaceful protest turned violent in the town square in Quimper.

The French Government planned to introduce the tax in order to reduce the environmental impact of the road haulage industry, rationalise road transport on medium and short distances, and generate resources to fund new infrastructures needed to develop intermodal transport. It was calculated that on average the transit tax would cost €0.13 per kilometre, depending on the vehicle class among other factors. It was also estimated that international and national trips will cost an extra 2% (as opposed to 5.2% on the old ‘Ecotaxe’ system).

Difficulties in implementing the tax in the testing stages ultimately led to the HGV Transit Tax to be suspended but, during the meeting between the Ministry and the industry bodies, an agreement was made to establish a working group to come up with a suitable solution, with the Government also pledging to intensify the search for solutions to make the country’s road haulage industry more competitive, preserving firms and jobs.