Transitional points system for HGVs in Austria in 2004

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I stand here as an Austrian Member of Parliament, but above all as someone who has always stood up for the environment and as a Vienna city councillor with responsibility for transport who believed that economic and traffic growth should not come at the expense of the environment and health.
Perhaps we have sometimes presented the transit rules as an Austrian privilege or a special arrangement for Austria. It was a special arrangement, but one with a particular pioneering function for Europe as a whole. This transit rule has brought about a change in the heavy goods vehicle fleet in the whole of Europe. It has been modernised, it has been made, if you like, more ecological, that is more friendly to the environment. That is the very thing that is now being prematurely ended. The rapporteur, who is unfortunately not present – it is interesting that this is the second time we have discussed the ecopoint system here without the rapporteur present; his predecessor was not present either; which shows how seriously it is sometimes taken – at least at one stage made a proposal that still gave an incentive to change. But then it disappeared again. The `transitional system´ we now have no longer contains any incentive to change over from more environmentally harmful to more environmentally friendly lorries. And that is the greatest drawback, the biggest problem we in Austria have with this system.
Reference is always being made to the infrastructure charging directive. But I can already hear the arguments over that directive. If we look at Mr Cocilovo´s proposal, it is clear that he does not even want what the Commission is proposing. We are put off from one proposal to the next. Rather than do that, we should make a general rule. I am grateful for the rule, but I do not think it is sufficient. But when this Parliament and certain groups and certain Members in particular cut it back even more and do not want even to accept the Commission´s proposal for a minor diversion from road to rail, then in my opinion there is no longer much point to it. That is my position.
To conclude, I am asking my fellow Members to reject it tomorrow because it is a sham. I ask my fellow Members to really think again and to say No to a solution that is only pretending to be one. Austria needs a real solution and that is not what we have here. I hope we shall get more support over the infrastructure charging directive than we have had in this case.
(Restrained applause)