With a final vote in the European Parliament, the EU adopted new rules on road charging. The new system will improve incentives for more efficient and sustainable road transport. It will phase out time-based vignettes for heavy-duty vehicles on the core Trans-European Network by 2030, in favour of distance-based. It will also introduce EU-wide rules to vary charges for heavy-duty vehicles based on their CO2 emissions. Moreover, after a 4-year transition period, external cost charging for air pollution will become mandatory for heavy-duty vehicles, except where it would create unintended traffic diversion.

Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “The new directive is a step towards a modern EU road pricing system, serving to finance and maintain good quality infrastructure while reflecting “the polluter pays principle” better. Road charging is an element in our strategy to reduce emissions from transport. The new rules call for differentiated infrastructure and user charges based on CO2, and introduce a mandatory external cost charge for heavy-duty vehicles to get consumers, operators, and manufacturers to shift towards cleaner options. It will also help mitigate other impacts of road transport that are costly to society, such as congestion.”

While the existing rules cover only lorries over 3.5 tonnes with the option to exempt lorries under 12 tonnes, they will be extended to all heavy and light vehicles, making sure charges are proportionate to their use and environmental performance depending on the type of vehicle. Tolling systems will also have to include the option of daily vignettes and avoid discriminating against foreign drivers. Member States will have an option to apply an additional charge in congested and sensitive areas, with the revenues of these additional taxes to be allocated to the development of sustainable transport alternatives. Road charging exemptions are included for special cases such as sparsely populated areas or disabled persons.

The new system will contribute to the aims of the European Green Deal and its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy. The Commission tabled its proposal for the revised Eurovignette Directive in 2017. Following yesterday’s vote in the European Parliament, the Directive will be signed and published in the Official Journal of the EU, entering into force on the 20th day after publication. Member States will then have two years to enact the new rules in their national law.

Source: European Commission