Brussels city toll: Walloon Parliament votes resolution
Members of the Walloon Parliament have voted on Monday quasi unanimously a resolution to urge to start talks with the Brussels government before they would implement a city toll in the capital region. If necessary, the MPs want to bring the matter to the Consultation Committee, which is meant to settle conflicts between the regions.
Remarkably the resolution is an initiative of the majority parties PS, MR, and Ecolo, with PS and Ecolo being part of the Brussels majority. The opposition cosigned that. The Flemish Parliament also showed earlier to be nearly unanimously against a Brussels city toll, while Open Vld and Groen being part of the Brussels government are forced into a straddle.
Tearing up Belgium
The Brussels ‘SmartMove’ plan to implement from January 2022 a city toll for entering the Brussels Region during the day on weekdays and enforce a kilometer tax on top of that has teared up Belgium since the details surfaced on October 15th.
Brussels still has to make the formal decision, but it isn’t likely to get away with a unilateral measure fiercely contested by the other regions. Walloon Minister for Economy Willy Borsus (MR) said a measure without consultation is ‘doomed to fail’.
But it puts pressure on all parties to start negotiating about a leveled playing field in the whole country to reform car taxation if they want to tackle traffic congestion and push the car fleet’s greening.
What threatens to escalate the conflict is that Flemish and Walloon commuters will have to pay twice to use their cars in the city. And even Brussels residents with a leased company car wouldn’t probably benefit from the tax exemption as private car owners would.
The city toll would be eligible for Brussels residents too, but they would be exempted from registration tax and yearly road tax to compensate. Those living outside but working in Brussels – an estimated 190 000 cars from Walloon and Flemish commuters – would have to pay car taxes twice. As registration taxes and road taxes are a regional matter, they wouldn’t be exempted in their home region and would have to pay to enter Brussels.
Like in Flanders, the Walloon MPs are talking about Brussels taking the ‘commuters as hostages’. According to Walloon MPs André Antoine and Julien Matagne, both of cdH, which is part of the opposition in both regions, a Walloon commuter is going ‘to be punished even four times’.
The first time by paying to enter Brussels, a second time for each kilometer driven, a third time via the ‘regional appropriation’ both Walloon and Flemish regions pay to compensate for their commuters working in Brussels, and a fourth time by paying the Walloon road tax.