"No Brussels road charge before 2024"

The road charging plans for the Brussels Region will be postponed, says Paul Magnette, the president of the Francophone socialists. "I understand from the contacts I had with my Brussels friends, that it will be something for a next government", Magnette told L'Echo and De Tijd. As the next elections have only been scheduled for 2024, this means that the plans will have to wait at least 4 years. However, the Brussels PM says he will pursue his efforts to get it done according to schedule. 

The Brussels regional authorities announced the plans last December. The driving force behind the scheme was the green minister Elke Van den Brandt. The road charge called SmartMove would have motorists pay for using public roads on weekdays between 7 AM and 10 PM. How much you will be charged, will depend on: 

  • when you drive
  • which type of vehicle you own 
  • the distance you are covering

In return, the Brussels Region would abolish the annual car tax for Brussels citizens. 

Soon after they had been released, the Brussels plans triggered criticism from Flemish politicians, who argued that Flemish employees commuting to the capital would have to pay an extra road charge while they cannot benefit from this tax reduction.  

A road charge for cars has been on the table for years - also in Flanders - but it seems extremely difficult to introduce it. Brussels would have been the first region to realise the plans, but it got thumbs down from Flanders and Wallonia, and criticism also emerged within Brussels. 

We need more time to prepare this plan

Mr Magnette - who belongs to the same party as the Brussels premier Rudi Vervoort who supports the plans - now says that they want to avoid that the plans will affect people on a low income and those who have no other choice than taking the car to the capital. "We need a longer period to prepare this plan, in order to allow everyone to adapt." 

However, Mr Vervoort told the Belgian news agency Belga that he will pursue his efforts to get things done as scheduled, and that he will continue the talks with other regions on the subject. 

The idea behind the plan is to stimulate green transport methods, avoid long tailbacks - a problem which has now been pushed to the background due to coronavirus and teleworking - and improve air quality. 

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