SPAIN’S Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, has ruled out any extension to toll charges on motorways during the current period of government.
That means nothing will happen for at least four years- if at all.
In October, the European Commission accepted Spain’s request to reverse a plan promised by the government in 2021 to introduce tolls on motorways as part of reforms to obtain European funds.
Instead, the government has pledged to boost rail freight users.
“We take it for granted that there will be no tolls, we have said it actively and passively”, said Fernando Grande-Marlaska.
The government had commissioned studies over the last two years to see how an extended motorway toll charging scheme would work in practice.
Issues included whether there would be discounts for residents who used motorways on a regular basis to go to work as well as whether a new levy would be collected via the annual local car tax.
There was understandably strong resistance to the proposals from the road haulage sector as well as political opponents of the PSOE-led government.
Money made by the moth-balled plan would have been used to reduce the €9 billion deficit in Spain’s road maintenance budgets.
The new toll plans attracted controversy and ran counter to the policy of the government withdrawing tolls in franchise concessions that have expired.
What put paid to the measure was the rise in inflation after the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, with the government not wanting to put added financial pressure on citizens.