Parliament approves greener road charging rules

Parliament has approved new, distance-based road charging rules for lorries, which will help reduce CO2 emissions.

Parliament approved changes to the rules on charging heavy goods vehicles for road use on 17 February 2022.

The changes to the Eurovignette directive replace the current time-based charges for trucks with distance-based charges.

By charging for the actual kilometres driven, the system will better reflect the polluter-pays principle, which is at the heart of the EU's environmental policy and states that those who damage the environment should pay to cover the costs.

The changes will harmonise the system of road charging across the EU and help finance road infrastructure, while reducing congestion and helping to achieve climate objectives.

Within eight years of the entry into force of the rules, time-based user charges - vignettes - for heavy goods vehicles will be gradually phased out and replaced by distance-based tolls on Europe’s major road network - the Trans-European network (TEN-T) roads.

Some exemptions and the possibility of a combined system may be allowed and EU countries will be able to continue to use vignettes on other parts of their networks.

Other changes include:

  • Road charges for trucks and light commercial vehicles will vary according to CO2 emissions and/or the environmental performance of the vehicle, to encourage the use of more environmentally friendly vehicles.
  • The rules on charges will be extended to include not only heavy goods vehicles over 12 tonnes, but all trucks, buses, passenger cars and vans. If EU countries choose to charge these vehicles, they will be able to use toll or vignette systems.
  • Price caps for short-term vignettes for passenger cars will be introduced; one-day vignettes will have to be available for transit travellers.
  • There is an option to introduce a congestion charge on all vehicles, the proceeds from which are to be used towards solving the congestion problem.

EU countries will be free to apply different charges to different categories of vehicle. For example, they may decide not to charge buses at all.

If road transport is included in a future carbon pricing mechanism, the rules will no longer apply in order to avoid double charging.

Next steps

EU countries will decide whether or not to introduce road charging, but if they do they must apply the new rules in order to eliminate distortions of competition in road transport.

They have two years to transpose the new rules into national laws.

Revision of the Eurovignette directive