EC accepted Spain’s request to not use road tolls to boost rail freight
The European Commission (EC) approved Spain’s request to unlock the funds from the Recovery and Resiliency Facility (RRF) without implementing road freight tolls. The alternative proposed by the country’s Ministry of Transport is that rail freight will be boosted through other initiatives.
Introducing new tolls for heavy vehicles in Spain for 2024 on a ‘polluter pays’ basis was one of the prerequisites set by the European Union (EU) to make the RRF funds available. These tolls were to be considered as a way of favouring the modal shift to rail since they would have made road freight services more expensive and, thus, less appealing.
However, the Spanish Minister of Transport Raquel Sánchez has been categoric in stating that she had no intention of going through with this plan. Rather, she said, rail freight can be promoted via other initiatives, namely the deployment of rolling highways and incentives for companies that choose rail over road. After some negotiations, “the Commission has given a positive assessment of Spain’s modified recovery and resilience plan” on Monday 2 October.
How much money is Spain getting?
As the Commission specified, Spain will receive 163 billion euros, of which 83 in loans and 80 in grants. A smaller portion of the grants, set at 2,6 billion euros, will come from the REPowerEU, while the rest is part of Spain’s RRF. According to the EC, about 40 per cent of these funds will be used for Spain’s green transition, which also includes making transport more sustainable, which translates to boosting rail transport.
The ball is now in the European Council’s court, which has four weeks to make a final decision. “The Council’s endorsement will allow Spain to receive €1.4 billion in pre-financing of the REPowerEU funds. Under the RRF, Spain has so far received €37 billion: €9 billion in pre-financing and €28 billion disbursed in total for the first three payments”.