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Spain to put more tolls on roads in bid for EU funds

·2 min read

By Clara-Laeila Laudette and Belén Carreño

MADRID, May 6 (Reuters) - Spain will put more tolls on its highways and adjust its air traffic taxes to reduce carbon emissions, as part of its plan to access the European Union's COVID-19 pandemic recovery fund, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said on Thursday.

The changes were highlighted in the pandemic recovery plan which Spain submitted to Brussels last week to gain access to 140 billion euros ($170 billion) in EU funds.

"After years of underfunding, we need to find ways of financing our roads' upkeep - these could involve all taxpayers, or just road users," Economy minister Calvino told lawmakers on Thursday. "Pay-per-use is the European model and it strikes me as the fairest."

Energy minister Teresa Ribera told reporters a new policy on road tolls would not be imposed until the economic recovery was under way.

On air traffic taxes, ministers gave no details of the changes under consideration, apart from the aim to cut emissions. Ribera said the air transport tax plan was due in July next year, and Spain would follow the EU's recommendations on an issue that was part of a broader European debate.

Leading Spanish toll road operators Abertis and Cintra, a subsidiary of Heathrow owner Ferrovial, were not immediately available for comment, nor was airport operator Aena.

Under the rules of the EU's COVID-19 recovery fund, Spain will receive loans and grants to spend by 2027 through an investment and reform programme closely monitored by Brussels.

The programme is expected to add two percentage points to economic growth annually in the coming years, and tackle the thorny issues of reforming Spain's pension and labour laws. ($1 = 0.8296 euros) (Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette and Belen Carreno; Editing by Nathan Allen and Peter Graff)