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EU launches infringement proceedings against 16 countries over road tolling

The European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against 16 EU member states for failing to implement an overhaul of road charging rules.

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The action stems from non-compliance with the amended Eurovignette Directive ((EU) 2022/362), which aims to create a more uniform system of road charging across the bloc.

The changes focus on two key areas. Firstly, the scope of tolls and vignettes – flat-rate charges for road use over a specified period – will be extended. Previously, these charges only applied to larger lorries. The amended directive now extends them to passenger cars and small heavy goods vehicles.

The second important addition is the introduction of a CO2-based toll for heavy goods vehicles. This mechanism is designed to encourage road hauliers to use cleaner, lower-emission vehicles, thereby reducing air pollution and promoting a greener European road transport sector.

The deadline for EU Member States to transpose these changes into national law was 25 March 2024. However, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Spain have yet to notify the Commission of their compliance measures.

The Commission has therefore sent letters of formal notice to these 16 countries. If they do not provide satisfactory explanations for the delay within two months, the infringement procedure will be escalated. This could ultimately lead to a referral to the European Court of Justice.

The European Commission stresses the importance of these rules. They argue that a harmonised system of road tolls is essential to ensure adequate funding for maintenance and development projects on Europe’s vast road network. In addition, the CO2-based element directly addresses air pollution concerns and pushes the road freight sector towards a more sustainable future.