The levy was introduced two years ago for both UK and foreign hauliers. UK operators saw their vehicle excise duty drop to reflect the charge and foreign hauliers pay around £40 million a year, says the RHA, but it means the full burden of contributing to road maintenance is now shared.
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett describes the European Commission’s move as “nonsense”.
“The levy breaks neither the letter nor spirit of EU law,” he says. “Brussels was fully briefed during its design and implementation – and continental hauliers continue to pay the levy without complaint.
The commission’s report talks about “thorough analysis” but refers to nothing new, the RHA points out. In challenging the reduction of VED, it appears to be challenging the long-established principle that member states may set their own tax rates as long as they comply with EU tax rules.
Burnett adds: “Currently, the levy goes as far as EU law allows towards levelling the playing field and no further. “The Commission should applaud the measure for making the haulage sector fairer, not attack it. If it persists in its challenge I trust that the UK government will pursue a vigorous defence.”