The Eurovignette and the framework to promote a European electronic toll service (EETS)

06-03-2017

The various reports and assessments show that there are considerable differences in the way vehicle road charges have been implemented across Member States. This means that a fully integrated market is yet to be reached. This is partly due to the flexibility contained in the various legislations which allowed Member States to apply systems that first and foremost fitted with their needs. As transport policy has increasingly become more interlinked with reducing emissions, these differences have become more problematic. The available evidence shows that there are qualitative differences between the road charging systems with distance-based charges being the most effective option. Indeed, it is clear that a move towards this system has been happening for some time now, and that road charges generally vary depending on emissions. The reviews did not find evidence of discrimination against any HGV users. In the area of electronic tolling, substantial variations can also be found. While dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) is the most used system, significant challenges around inter-operability remain. In fact some argue that none of the current systems in use under EETS will increase operability. Technological advances are nevertheless making harmonising these services easier. Although some argue that the gradual harmonisation seen to date has more to do with new technologies than with EU legislation. While a harmonised system is important for the internal market, road charges have also become closely linked with the reduction in emissions according to the 'polluter pay' principle. Following that logic, it would be difficult not to consider road charges for all vehicles. Especially since passenger car emissions make up a higher proportion of GHG emissions than HGVs. Indeed, the Commission's consultation on the topic confirms that wide ranging options are being considered. A broader scope raises more challenges, and as road charges get more sophisticated, i.e. time-based for example, more care needs to be taken that rates do not discriminate against some road users, in particular non-nationals. However, road charges currently make up only a very small proportion of the total costs for the transport sector, which means that behavioural changes solely based on these charges are likely to be limited. To significantly reduce transport emissions, much broader actions will be required.

The various reports and assessments show that there are considerable differences in the way vehicle road charges have been implemented across Member States. This means that a fully integrated market is yet to be reached. This is partly due to the flexibility contained in the various legislations which allowed Member States to apply systems that first and foremost fitted with their needs. As transport policy has increasingly become more interlinked with reducing emissions, these differences have become more problematic. The available evidence shows that there are qualitative differences between the road charging systems with distance-based charges being the most effective option. Indeed, it is clear that a move towards this system has been happening for some time now, and that road charges generally vary depending on emissions. The reviews did not find evidence of discrimination against any HGV users. In the area of electronic tolling, substantial variations can also be found. While dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) is the most used system, significant challenges around inter-operability remain. In fact some argue that none of the current systems in use under EETS will increase operability. Technological advances are nevertheless making harmonising these services easier. Although some argue that the gradual harmonisation seen to date has more to do with new technologies than with EU legislation. While a harmonised system is important for the internal market, road charges have also become closely linked with the reduction in emissions according to the 'polluter pay' principle. Following that logic, it would be difficult not to consider road charges for all vehicles. Especially since passenger car emissions make up a higher proportion of GHG emissions than HGVs. Indeed, the Commission's consultation on the topic confirms that wide ranging options are being considered. A broader scope raises more challenges, and as road charges get more sophisticated, i.e. time-based for example, more care needs to be taken that rates do not discriminate against some road users, in particular non-nationals. However, road charges currently make up only a very small proportion of the total costs for the transport sector, which means that behavioural changes solely based on these charges are likely to be limited. To significantly reduce transport emissions, much broader actions will be required.