At the ECG conference in Munich last week, logistics service providers expressed frustration at a potential round of tax and toll increases that could further cut into their slim margins. Frits Mehrtens (pictured), President of the ECG and Managing Director of Broekman, Automotive Division, called measures such as Germany's Maut toll and proposed Euro Vignette legislation, both directed at road transport, "medieval". 
"We have seen that increases such as the Euro Vignette or Maut tolls lead only to inflation, and not modal shifts," Mehrtens said. "We see that rail also raises its prices relative to road."
The Euro Vignette is a programme proposed by the European Commission that would further tax trucks per kilometre driven, in an attempt to "externalise" its environmental costs as part of the EC's Greening Package. The programme, if passed, would be levied against trucks of 7.5 tonnes and heavier. It is generally more popular in Central European countries, through which many foreign trucks use roads in transit but do not pay local taxes or use local fuel. Western European countries, and those on the periphery of the European Union, are more opposed.
The week before the event, Germany announced an increase in the Maut toll of around 50-60 per cent. Egon Christ, Daimler's Senior Manager, Worldwide Transportation/Vehicle Distribution, expressed less concern about the overall impact of the Maut increase. "OEMs are now discussing how to deal with the toll increases," he said. "Most OEMs simply compensate for it."
John Berry, Principal Administrator for the European Commission's Directorate for Energy and Transport, warned LSPs that if they were opposed to current legislation, they must take action to make their voices heard in Brussels. "You must understand, the road haulage industry is a dairy cow," he said. " You are there to be milked! If you don't like it, take some political action."