No Tolls on Free Spanish Highways: Brussels Accepts the Government’s Request

Payment for the use of Spanish highways was supposed to go into effect in 2024, but as crazy as it sounded, this proposal has now been dropped.

Spanish highways that are free to use at the moment,  will remain toll-free, and a measure that was scheduled to take effect in 2024, introducing a payment system for all highways across the nation, has been withdrawn. This decision follows the acceptance of the Spanish government’s request by the European Commission, which had initially included the toll system in its Recovery Plan.

Spain’s Minister of Transport, Mobility, and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sánchez, had previously conveyed the government’s intention to negotiate with the European Commission to avoid implementing any payment system for highway usage. 

The recent acceptance of this request by Brussels marks a pivotal development in favor of the Spanish government’s stance.

In lieu of the proposed toll system, set for 2024, the Spanish government has pledged to adopt alternative compensatory measures with an environmental focus. These measures include bolstering the country’s railway network to facilitate the transportation of both goods and passengers. Initiatives such as the creation of railway highways and granting a five-year bonus on railway charges for freight transport are part of this commitment.

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The Popular Party in Les Corts Valencianes had strongly advocated for the Spanish government to abandon the toll system, which they believed would disproportionately impact transporters in the Valencian Community. They estimated that the implementation of this measure could have resulted in the collection of approximately 150 million euros annually from tolls on Valencian highways.

Thankfully, due to the Spanish government’s request and the European Commission’s acceptance, the toll system will not be imposed on Spanish highways. The initial proposal, which was announced during the 2021 Corona Crisis, had set a 2024 deadline for charging motorists for highway use. The original plan encompassed not only major highways but also most major traffic routes, ostensibly to generate additional revenue for road maintenance.

This announcement had sparked significant controversy in Spain, as it raised questions about why a country with one of the world’s highest tax burdens needed to charge its citizens for road upkeep, especially considering that the entire Spanish highway network would have been funded directly by consumers.

The potential repercussions of this measure, particularly in densely populated areas surrounded by highways, such as Valencia, had been a matter of concern. However, the decision to forgo the toll system has brought relief to both residents and visitors who will continue to enjoy toll-free access to Spanish highways.

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