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    Brussels plans to charge motorists to enter city

    Plans by the Brussels regional government to introduce a kind of city-toll – a charge for every vehicle entering the region – have been revealed by the region’s transport minister, Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) to De Tijd. But her colleague, finance minister Sven Gatz, has described the news as “premature”.

    According to Van den Brandt (photo), the charge would vary according to the type of vehicle and the time of day. “It will be a smart system which takes account of as many factors as possible,” Van den Brandt told the paper. “The system is not fine-tuned enough to charge people for every kilometre they cover, but we can operate price differences, according to rush hour or calmer times, the place where the vehicle enters the city, the emissions level and the capacity of the vehicle. A small car will pay less than an SUV, because road safety is also a factor. The plan is not to introduce a single-tariff city toll.”

    However according to government colleague Gatz, Brussels minister for finance, Van den Brandt’s revelations are premature. The new government’s founding document contains a commitment to negotiate with the Walloon and Flemish governments to introduce road tolls. However since neither of those governments has yet been formed, talks have not even started, Gatz told De Morgen.

    In the previous Flemish government, Gatz was minister for Brussels affairs. Cooperation with the other two regions is seen by most as essential to make a road toll workable across Belgium. If no agreement is reached with Flanders, for example, the many commuters who arrive in Brussels every day could be faced with paying road taxes in Flanders and a toll to enter Brussels.

    The Brussels plans also involve an extension of the network of automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) cameras in the region, as well as a change to the tax every driver pays once they have put a vehicle on the road in the first place.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times