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Motorway tolls could generate 5 billion euros a year for the State in Spain

Motorway tolls could generate 5 billion euros a year for the State in Spain

MOTORING ·

Spain is the only country in the EU where 'the taxpayer finances the conservation and use of high-capacity roads with their taxes,' according to Seopan, a Spanish association of infrastructure contractors and concessionaires

EDURNE MARTÍNEZ

MADRID.

Monday, 20 February 2023, 22:34

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The implementation of pay-per-use tolls on motorways in Spain could generate 5 billion euros for State coffers, according to Seopan, a Spanish association of infrastructure contractors and concessionaires.

«The reform must be left out of the political debate and focus on resolving the inconsistency of Spain in the EU,» the group explained. Spain is the only country in the EU where «the taxpayer finances the conservation and use of high-capacity roads with their taxes.»

Julian Núñez, president of Seopan, highlighted that the minimum investment needed in Spanish roads is 10.6 billion euros for road safety, environmental sustainability and digitisation and technology. For these reasons, he argued that there are no other viable options available to raise the money. «It is the only alternative, as Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Austria already do it, all of Europe does it except Spain,» said Núñez.

The government negotiations with Seopan are deadlocked, although the president of the association is aware the Ministry of Transport is not obliged to negotiate. However it is a reform that will have to be carried out before July 2025, as stated in the Recovery Plan committed to Brussels.

«The Government is currently evaluating alternatives for the pay-per-use model, but it will be after the elections that this is addressed» revealed Núñez.

More time to get European funds

Seopan warned about the delay and low completion rate of projects financed with European funds. An extension of «at least one year» in the deadlines for bidding and execution could be requested. This is a measure that Germany has already exercised, according to Núñez, who is convinced that Spain will do the same.

The president of the association expressed regret that only 6.7% of European funds have been allocated to infrastructure, that is, some 11.6 billion euros of the 173.5 billion available.

In contrast, Italy has invested six times more in the high-speed rail network and almost twice as much in sustainable mobility than in Spain. This is in addition to 10.9 million for infrastructure and electric recharging points, all with EU funds.

Looking ahead to 2023, Seopan forecasts point to a 4% growth in construction activity, motivated by the 12% increase in civil works and 5.6% in non-residential construction. However, Núñez expects residential construction to slow this year due to the effect of inflation and interest rates.

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