Traffic congestion is the key transport issue in Britain and across Europe, and road pricing is an important part of the transport debate as governments wrestle with the problems of limiting congestion and introducing pricing mechanisms that ensure different transport modes can operate fairly, according to the former Labour Party leader.
Promoted to EU vice-chairman with responsibility for reforms from September, Kinnock, said: 'Everyone is aware of the problems caused by congestion and these will increase. The solution does not lie primarily with the EC - most of the response will have to come from local and national governments and, of course, from transport operators and users themselves. The improvement of public transport systems is the responsibility of national administrations.
'At a European level, we are trying to improve transport links so that the transport system is as efficient as possible; introduce measures to make some forms of transport - inland waterway traffic or rail freight - more attractive to business; and work with industry to ensure that car design is as environmentally sustainable as possible. The car is here to stay and it has brought huge benefits. What we need is a range of measures to ensure that cars are used for some, but not all, journeys and that freight doesn't always travel by road.'
Kinnock, a commissioner since 1995, says the EC has played a crucial role in giving the road pricing debate political profile at a European level so that, if member states want to introduce road pricing schemes, they are covered by a common framework - similar methodologies used for calculating the costs recovered. He said: 'The Commission believes that pricing systems, where introduced - and the decision to do so rests with governments - should be fair, efficient and transparent so that users pay for what they get and get what they pay for.'