AETIS positions

March 2021:

AETIS’ position on the second EETS draft bill (BR-Drs. 68/21), transposing the new EETS Directive in Germany

Centralised map-matching must remain optional to secure the sustainability of EETS in Germany

Executive Summary:

  • Because of its central position in Europe and its subsequent weight in the tolling market, Ger-many is generally perceived as a show case for EETS. It is therefore imperative that appropriate market conditions are in place for EETS Providers, operating in this country.
     
  • Focusing on Germany is all the more an urgency as German authorities currently envisage us-ing the transposition of the new EETS Directive to change one of the key components of EETS for the German toll domain.

  • So far, EETS Providers have been required to provide their own map-matching solutions when offering electronic toll collection services to their clients using German roads. This may change soon. Indeed, if nothing is done, the Bundestag will adopt in March a law which will make it compulsory for EETS Providers to use the centralised map-matching service (MED), operated by Toll Collect, a German state-owned company, thus giving up their own map-matching solutions.

  • While this switch is presented by the German authorities as a minor technical adjustment aimed at making EETS more easily manageable, AETIS has to stress that it will have a profound impact on EETS Providers and their clients, affecting also the market conditions EETS Providers work with.

  • The first EETS Providers have been offering their services (including map-matching) for quite a while, after making significant investments to accommodate the then stated authorities’ re-quirements. AETIS is not opposing central map matching as a principle, what we plead for is optionality - EETS Providers should be given the freedom to choose between the centralised map-matching option or continue to use the solutions they have already invested in. Impos-ing a centralised map-matching solution four years after the start of EETS operations would be extremely disruptive to EETS Providers.
     
  • Besides, this change would also have an impact on road users (an estimated half a million vehicles will be using an EETS solution in Germany by 2023).

Key abstracts of the position paper sent to the German authorities:

AETIS is an industry association bringing together 16 service providers of the European Electronic Toll Service (EETS). Since the creation of a common European electronic toll service through various EU directives and regulations, AETIS has been helping to promote and further develop the interoperability of electronic toll systems, thereby helping to simplify cross-border road freight transport.

In Germany, four EETS providers have already been approved since the entry into force of the new EETS Directive in April 2019, and since then they have indisputably demonstrated the quality of their services by exceeding the quality parameters required by the Toll Charger.

The German government's draft of a second law amending toll regulations with regard to the intro-duction of the European Electronic Toll Service (2nd EETS Act) is intended to transpose the EU's new EETS Directive into national law on schedule by October 2021. In this context, AETIS assesses many of the planned changes very positively. In particular, AETIS welcomes the introduction of the principle of a central map matching, however not as a mandatory service. Also, some of the intended innovations contradict the principle of a European level playing field and thus the principles of competition. As a consequence, this ultimately jeopardizes the business model of EETS providers who are already ac-credited in Germany. In order to avoid distortions of competition as well as disadvantages for users and EETS providers, AETIS considers the following amendments to the draft bill necessary and required:

AETIS’ proposed adjustments at a glance:

➔ Introduction of an optional, fee-based use of the toll collection service by EETS providers
➔ Creation of fair competitive conditions between all market participants
➔ Creation of transparent, non-discriminatory, appropriate and thus fair compensation reg-ulations
➔ Retention of the proven independent arbitration body
➔ Data concentration: guaranteeing legal requirements for data protection and free compe-tition

1. Changing the current system would distort competition in the EETS market:

a. The quality of the service would not be improved

With the introduction of a mandatory centralised map-matching service, essential functions of the technical systems, which are necessary for route identification, pricing and toll calculation (map-matching systems), are to be transferred from the EETS providers to the federally owned competitor Toll Collect. In doing so, the federal government is seeking to change a system that has more than proven its functionality since its introduction without any need to do so. The KPIs required by the BAG are clearly exceeded by the accredited EETS providers.

The data collection of the respective on-board units and optimized over many years. It is more than doubtful that a uniform centralised map-matching service with the many different devices of the EETS providers will deliver a similarly high quality.

b. Investments made by EETS providers already operating in Germany would be lost

Despite these efforts for a functioning tolling system in Germany, EETS providers are now being penal-ized for precisely this contribution, because the German government is not taking into account the fact that the already approved EETS providers had to make considerable investments in order to set up their own map-matching systems. These systems were a mandatory prerequisite for approval by the Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG). The mandatory use of the centralised map-matching service will lead to a complete devaluation of these investments made. Compensation in the form of trans-parent, non-discriminatory and appropriate remuneration, is not included in the draft bill and is ap-parently not envisaged. This fundamentally endangers the business model of accredited EETS pro-viders in Germany and creates a general environment of legal uncertainty among market partici-pants that will hinder future investments in innovations that are necessary for the further develop-ment of the market.

The argument that the toll is also calculated in other European countries by the Toll Charger in the form of a central service cannot apply in this context. This ignores the essential difference that in these toll domains, the EETS providers were not entrusted with the calculation of the toll from the very beginning. Thus, these national tolling systems - in contrast to the situation in Germany - did not re-quire the EETS providers to invest in setting up their own systems as a prerequisite for market entry.

AETIS therefore calls for the introduction of optional use of the centralised map-matching service by EETS providers. Only in this way can both already approved EETS providers and new EETS providers entering the German toll market decide whether they want to use the centralised map-matching ser-vice of the BAG or continue to use or develop their own independent solution. In addition, the free decision to use a centralised map-matching service allows the EETS providers, with appropriate remu-neration, to amortize their investment costs and to use and further develop the system advantages for the benefit of the users. This also ensures the highest possible quality.

c. Non-transparent compensation regulations create uncertainty

It has already been announced by the federal government that the remuneration for EETS providers will be reduced. However, it remains unclear as yet what the exact calculation or level of remuneration will look like and how the expenses and risks borne by the EETS providers will be adequately reflected in the remuneration structure. It is also unclear how the remuneration of the operator Toll Collect will be structured and assessed, i.e. for what Toll Collect will receive which additional remuneration com-ponents from the Toll Charger.

This creates planning uncertainty for EETS providers and runs counter to the Directive's requirements that EETS providers be remunerated in a transparent, non-discriminatory and appropriate manner.
AETIS therefore demands that the remuneration rules be disclosed in order to make it clear to EETS providers how the Toll Charger evaluates their risk structures for the determination of remuneration and how the remuneration of the competing operator Toll Collect is composed in detail in comparison.

In addition, the current remuneration arrangements with the BAG are to be retained and must not be influenced by the introduction of the MED.

2. The new system would lead to disadvantages for users:

The introduction of a mandatory centralised map-matching service would lead to considerable effort for a large number of users, since the necessary adjustments to the operating software of the OBUs (on-board units) cannot be made in some cases without the active support of the driver. In some cases, it will also be necessary to replace OBUs if they can no longer support the technical requirements demanded for the MED.

In addition, the EETS providers will no longer be able to offer certain necessary services in the area of customer support, as essential information will no longer be available due to the compulsory data transfer to Toll Collect and the subsequent obligatory deletion. As a result, the EETS providers will lack important detailed information, for example, to process customer complaints or to refute any objec-tions raised by the BAG as part of the review of quality parameters, as previous experience has shown. This will lower the service quality of EETS providers and consequently have a negative impact on users.

3. Other points to consider:

a. MED leads to data protection concerns

EETS providers will be forced by the mandatory centralised map-matching service to transmit all move-ment data of all their customers to the nationally competing Toll Collect. This undermines the data sovereignty of EETS providers and significantly worsens the protection of personal data compared to the previous system.

Should an EETS provider choose the optional centralized MED through Toll Collect, future regulations must ensure that general data protection rules (such as the GDPR) and general competition rules are respected.

b. Independence of the conciliation body is jeopardized

These planned new regulations lead to structural changes to the previous proven conciliation system. Contrary to the basic idea of an independent arbitration body in accordance with the EU Directive, the draft bill creates the conditions for allowing to appoint federal authorities as arbitration bodies. This enables dependent positioning in favor of the BMVI and the subordinate authority BAG and made it virtually impossible for the EETS providers to consult the conciliation body without bias.

AETIS calls for the introduction of an optional right to use the centralised map-matching service and fair compensation for all market participants according to uniform standards. There is also a need for an arbitration body that is independent of federal authorities, as this is the only way to resolve disputes between market participants fairly and impartially, as past experience has shown.


14 January 2021:

AETIS applauds the first official EETS journey to Switzerland

AETIS, the association representing European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) Providers, applauds the first official EETS journey to Switzerland. It took place in Chiasso on 14 January 2021.

We commend the Swiss authorities for joining EETS. Our members are eager and ready to cooperate with the Federal Customs Administration to ensure EETS in Switzerland performs in accordance with the highest standards.

On this occasion, AETIS reiterates its call to all EU Toll Chargers and national authorities to adopt the necessary measures to ensure the new EETS Directive is transposed by 19 October 2021.
AETIS members are ready to actively contribute to making EETS – a flagship EU initiative – a success story.


4 December 2020:

AETIS’ presentation for the 25 November EFP webinar

AETIS would like to thank ASFINAG for hosting the EETS Facilitation Platform’s webinar “Current developments in EETS and Tolling in Europe” and for providing Eva Tzoneva, AETIS Chair, with the opportunity to outline the EETS Providers’ perspective on the challenges, the lessons learnt and the way ahead to secure the swift deployment of EETS across Europe.

While EETS is becoming a reality for more and more EU Member States, EETS is not evenly implemented across Europe. In Eastern Europe especially, EETS is not yet on the agenda of all Transport and Finance Ministries or the expectations from the EETS Providers are not completely realistic.

To secure continuous progress for this flagship EU initiative, AETIS recommends the following key actions:


19 November 2020:

AETIS feedback to the IIA on the review of the ITS Directive

AETIS, the association representing European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) Providers, welcomes the opportunity to inform the work of the European Commission on the review of the ITS Directive.

At this stage of the drafting process, we first and foremost insist on the need for the new ITS Directive to work hand in hand with the EETS Directive, which must be transposed by the EU Member States by 19 October 2021. ITS and EETS being clearly intertwined, we believe that the new ITS Directive must not only help accelerate and coordinate the deployment of ITS but should also contribute to the genuine roll-out of EETS across the EU.

Drawing on the lessons learnt from the implementation of the EETS Directive, we call on the new ITS Directive to help secure:

  • a fair and non-discriminatory level playing field in the broad ITS sector by further clarifying the rights and obligations of the market players;
  • the interoperability and continuity of the ITS-related services by fostering standardization and, when possible, simplifying market-access and accreditation procedures; and that
  • the transfer and sharing of data amongst market players remains in line with the GDPR, the EU data and privacy framework and the EU competition rules.

The new Directive should also put in place mechanisms to ensure the dialogues between the public and private stakeholders operating in the ITS sector cannot be interrupted.

Besides, AETIS welcome the efforts to promote connected and automated mobility as well as multi-modal mobility platforms. Some of our members are working on such services. We would like to stress that initiatives in these fields must be developed in synergy with the deployment of EETS across Europe.

Finally, we would like to conclude by emphasizing the importance of promoting the genuine deployment of ITS and EETS across Europe. They have the potential to effectively contribute to the two overarching priorities of the European Commission, namely the European Green Deal and making Europe fit for the digital age.


25 March 2020:

Covid-19: AETIS members are ready to participate in a collective effort to support road transport companies

Statement unanimously and fully supported by all AETIS members and associated members

Dear all,

We are writing to you on behalf of AETIS, the Brussels-based association representing European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) Providers. Our members enable road users – generally transport companies – to pay electronic tolls throughout the EU with one subscription contract, thus limiting cash transactions at toll stations or other points of sale, eliminating cumbersome procedures, increasing safety, and improving traffic flow. In parallel, we also collect tolls from road users on behalf of the toll chargers and guarantee the toll to the toll chargers, who can then focus on road and traffic management.

As key contributors to the road transport, logistics and freight ecosystem, AETIS members are experiencing first-hand the impact Covid-19 has on road transport companies. For this reason, we applaud and support the European Commission and national governments’ swift initial responses to help this strategic sector for the whole EU economy (road accounts for 75% of freight transport according to the EC Communication on “Green Lanes”) cope with this unprecedented crisis.

AETIS members also actively support road transport companies – our customers and partners – during these challenging times. However, this effort, and the related economic risks, have to be shared amongst all the partners of the road transport ecosystem. Only collectively will we be able to overcome this crisis.

Consequently, as a temporary solution to allow road transport companies to increase their chances of sustaining their operations during this crisis, and in addition to interest-free loans provided by national governments and EU institutions, AETIS would support the idea that all suppliers and partners on the cost side consider granting extended terms of payment throughout the whole chain. Such goodwill coalition would include inter alia oil companies, toll chargers and all involved service providers, including of course AETIS members.

Granting extended terms of payment will increase the risks for all parties involved in this coalition as open payments will raise and affect their own cashflow. However, if the efforts and risks are shared, with caution and proportion, across the entire chain of the road transport, logistics and freight ecosystem, most industry players will survive this crisis.

On the other hand, AETIS does not support the calls to simply annul some costs for road transport companies. As the whole road transport ecosystem is based on a balanced cost-and-payment structure, such a solution would lead the end customers of road transport companies to request a pricing recalculation and in the end not change the overall cashflow situation of the latter. Furthermore, amending the cost-and-payment balance of this industry would jeopardize the mere survival of its partners in the ecosystem; e.g. toll chargers, concessionaires, toll service providers, payment service providers and so on.

Finally, once we will have collectively overcome this unprecedented crisis, AETIS believes it will be time to further foster the genuine implementation of EETS in the EU Member States to secure the smooth transport of goods across Europe while reducing the impact of road transport on the environment.

We stay at your disposal to provide further information and look forward to working with you to develop targeted measures to minimize the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the road transport, logistics and freight ecosystem.

Sincerely, 

Ewa Conewa (Tzoneva)

Anne Grünkorn

AETIS Chair

AETIS Secretary General

 

AETIS events

24 April 2018:

Great dynamic at first AETIS EU lunch-debate, co-hosted by EP EETS Rapporteur Salini MEP!

AETIS, together with Mr. Salini MEP, the rapporteur on the EC proposal for a new EETS Directive, hosted a lunch-debate on the future of the European electronic toll framework in the European Parliament premises on 24 April 2018.

The aim of that event, which took place exactly one month before the European Parliament Transport Committee vote on the EETS Directive, was to foster an open discussion between key Members of the European Parliament, representatives from the EU Member States, the European Commission and a delegation of AETIS members in view of ensuring the new EETS Directive and Decision – together with the Eurovignette Directive – help establish EETS on a level playing field across all Member States, based on open competition and robust business cases.

The lunch-debate was well attended with key representatives of the three EU institutions, including Mr. Salini MEP, the EP rapporteur on this dossier, Mr. van Miltenburg MEP, the shadow rapporteur for the Liberal group, experts from the Austrian (the upcoming Presidency of the Council), Italian and Swedish governments and Jan Szulczyk, the European Commission policy officer working on the EETS proposal.

After Mr. Salini MEP’s welcome address, Ms. Tzoneva, AETIS President, took the floor to outline AETIS views on the review of the EETS proposal.

AETIS advocates that EETS can only be of added value to the transport sector (to the international operating hauliers as well as to cross-border serving and national operating transport companies) if the new EU EETS framework provides clear and balanced roles to all stakeholders (Member States, Toll Chargers, national toll operators and EETS & national service providers) in this very specific limited market. That is why all amendments clarifying each role and evenly allocating rights and obligations to all stakeholders are of major importance.

AETIS, as the service provider association, is keen to demonstrate that benefits can be achieved not only at EU but also at Member States level. When new toll systems are put in place, including EETS at the very beginning of the process can help reduce costs. As regards existing toll systems, all stakeholders need to invest; so a transparent mechanism for the co-existence of national and EETS services is key.

Ms. Tzoneva’s presentation was followed by a series of lively and fruitful small-group discussions all around the table allowing the participating EU officials not only to exchange views with the AETIS members but also with the representatives of the other institutions.

AETIS would like to thank again all participants for their contributions to the discussions and wish them all the best as they finalise the new EETS Directive!