The EU was accused of undermining national sovereignty today after MEPs backed a plan that will increase road charges for haulage companies and motorists.

The proposals will force the UK and 8 other countries to switch to a distance-based tolling system for heavy goods vehicles. The International Road Transport Union, which represents haulage companies, warns that such a move will increase the cost and complexity of the UK's tolling system. Currently, the UK uses a time-based system which charges truck drivers for the amount of days they spend on the roads.

MEPs also supported extending the EU rules to include cars, vans, buses and coaches which the International Automobile Federation warned would "lead to higher costs for motorists without any tangible environmental or mobility benefits".

The European Commission believes these EU-wide rules will solve the controversial German tolling system which breaks the bloc's rules by discriminating against foreign drivers.

Conservative Transport Spokesman Jacqueline Foster MEP said: "This EU power grab is an unnecessary response to a German-made problem. Instead of undermining national sovereignty by telling Member States how to operate their tolling systems, the EU should take Germany to the European Court of Justice for breaking the bloc's rules.

"It's simply wrong for the EU to go beyond its brief and meddle with road charges when it will increase costs for motorists and haulage companies. It's up to national governments and local authorities to set the rules governing tolling systems and congestion charges."

The proposals also infringe on States'  tax sovereignty by dictating how revenues from these charges should be spent.

Mrs Foster added: "Not only is the EU planning to trample over national sovereignty by meddling with road charges, it has the nerve to tell us how to spend our money."


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