A Brussels initiative to harmonize car taxes across the European Union will face an uphill struggle with national governments that are keen to retain control of their own revenue generation.
That's a pity.
The EU's 25 member countries now have vastly different car-registration taxes. Danes can pay as much as 173 percent on top of the net price when they buy a car, Italians a mere 1 percent.
Without more harmonization, it will be difficult to create the level European playing field that consumers would like to see.
Brussels also wants to bring the core taxes levied on car use more in line with common environmental goals. Currently, cars are taxed based on engine displacement, CO2 emissions or any of a list of criteria.
Eliminating this unnecessary hodgepodge of legislation in favor of a more transparent, more relevant tax is a worthwhile cause - one that's endorsed by the European auto industry.
"We support the inclusion of environmental philosophy in the tax system," says a spokesman for ACEA, the European auto industry association.
The EU is in turmoil after voters in France and the Netherlands rejected a new European constitution and leaders failed to agree on an EU-wide budget reform.
But that shouldn't push important reforms down the priority lists of EU policymakers.
Brussels should press ahead with plans to change and harmonize car taxes across the EU.
The European auto industry needs clear and consistent regulation.