Citizens' initiative opposing congestion charges moves to Parliament

Finland's government is currently drafting a bill which would allow urban municipalities to charge road congestion fees.

The government wants to cut traffic emissions as it seeks to meet the target of being carbon neutral by 2035. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

A citizens' initiative opposing the introduction of congestion charges in Finland has garnered the required 50,000 signatures of support and will move to Parliament to be debated by MPs.

The initiative called on the government to suspend the drafting of a bill allowing urban municipalities to charge road congestion fees as well as zonal charges and tolls.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin's (SDP) government began drafting the bill in 2019, which would be aimed at reducing traffic emissions and helping Finland reach the target of being carbon neutral by 2035.

However, the citizens' initiative argued that the introduction of congestion charges would have a negative and discriminatory effect, especially on motorists living in urban or suburban municipalities. It would also act as a deterrent against the mobility of labour and have a knock on effect on employment, the initiative said.

Critics of the proposed bill have organised a number of different protests, most recently when motorists gathered outside Parliament House to honk their horns at the beginning of October.

A survey conducted by news group Uutissuomalainen last year found that about 58 percent of respondents were against the introduction of congestion charges, while 30 percent supported the proposal.