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Open Letter to Jaques Barrot

Mr. Jacques Barrot
This is an example for an image Vice-President of the European Commission
Commissioner for Transport
BERL 12/225
Fax nr : +32 2 298 15 99
E-mail address :

Download the letter in pdf.:

Kiel, 10 February 2007

Dear Vice-President,

I am writing you regarding the Community’s land transport policy which aims at promoting “sustainable mobility that is efficient, safe and with reduced negative effects on the environment”. I honestly agree with these goals and would like to draw your attention to policies which may help the progress in advancing towards them in Eastern European countries.

The vast majority of residents in the European Union’s new member and aspirant states leaves in urban areas. Or at least commutes there to work, do business or study. People are lured to the city by the prospect of a job, money and prosperity. Yet, looking further in the future the picture is becoming less rosy. The biggest impediment to the future affluence of Eastern European cities may be the congestion on roads.

It makes little difference: Sofia or Budapest, Warsaw or Zagreb, the traffic is likely to be standing still during weekdays. As streets get clogged with traffic the speed drops and traveling time increases exponentially. The costs of fuel, sacrificed working time and pollution increase to unbearably high levels in gridlock. As a researcher I have reviewed several studies which give evidence that the current approach to traffic management is unsustainable and may soon curb the momentum of Europe’s emerging cities.

The European Commission is well aware of the problems as the underlying trend is often reported in its publications. Although some Western European cities, in particular London and Stockholm, independently introduced congestion charging systems in recent years, there is still a shortage of policies on the European level.

In my opinion, the spreading of the road pricing and its know-how is the key to Europe’s transport development. The Commission plays unambiguously a vital role in formulating and implementing transport policies in Europe. Therefore, I kindly ask you to give the following proposals consideration.

1. Organizing conferences for European experts of congestion charging would have a profound impact on the dispersion of benchmark solutions and the formulation of supranational policies.

2. The European Commission could promote establishing good working relationship between transport specialists and decision makers which may foster the practical implementation of road pricing in Eastern European countries.

3. Allocating funds to introduce traffic management systems in Eastern Europe may provide more efficient solutions to transport challenges in crowded urban regions than road investments.

4. It might be also substantive to develop European regulations that build on the experiences of cities which already implemented road charging networks in urban regions.

5. Finally, congestion charging systems has been successful not only in terms of managing fast growing traffic demand but also politically. Therefore, creating better conditions on roads may contribute to the political stability of the region.

I believe that the European cooperation in traffic management is a stepping stone to a more lucrative future of Eastern European cities. Keeping this aim in mind I also sent a copy of my letter to several mayors of European cities both from the Western and Eastern regions. Obviously, better traffic conditions are not only of interest to passengers or drivers but also to politicians and the wider community. The sooner Eastern European Cities introduce benchmark solutions, the lower the deadweight loss that the European Community suffers.

I hope that you will be able to build plans on my arguments and I naturally remain at your entire disposal to discuss them further with you and the experts of the Commission at the earliest convenience. I kindly ask you to send your answer via e-mail or fax.

Yours sincerely,

Szilárd Erhart,
Senior Economist and Researcher
Kiel Institute for the World Economy, National Bank of Hungary
Address: Düsternbrooker Weg 148.
Tel: 00 49 171 182 1428
Fax: 00 36 1 398 0594
Home page:

Mr. Milan Bandić, Zagreb
Mr. Andrej Ďurkovský, Bratislava
Mr. Nenad Bogdanović, Belgrade Mr. Ken Linvingstone, London
Mr. Pavel Bém, Prague
Ms Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Warsaw
Mr. Boyko Borissov, Sofia
Mr. Axin Olén, Stockholm
Mr. Job Cohen, Amsterdam
Mr. Matthias Ruete, Director-General DG TREN
Mr. Gábor Demszky, Budapest
Mr. Adriean Videanu, Bucharest


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