This is the EU’s new approach to how road tolls shall change

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The European Parliament has reached a deal on new road charging rules for lorries. A transition from time-based to distance-based charging will take place, reducing CO2 emissions. Moreover, vehicles with lower CO2 emissions shall receive benefits.

The agreement reached by the European Parliament and Council negotiators will update the rules defining the charges EU member states can impose on trucks and lorries, but also buses, vans and passenger cars using trans-European transport (TEN-T) network roads. The aim of the new rules is to move road toll charging methods from a time-based model to distance-based or an actual kilometres-driven system, to better reflect the polluter-pays and user-pays principles.

In addition, the EU plans to encourage the wider use of more environmentally friendly vehicles. Therefore, EU countries will need to set different road charging rates based on CO2 emissions for lorries and buses. However, the exact way of defining the rates based on emissions will be decided later.

From vignettes to tolls

The most important decision is to phase out “vignettes” (time-based road charging) across the core TEN-T network from 2029 for heavy-duty vehicles (trucks, lorries and buses) and instead will start applying tolls (distance-based charges).

However, member states will still be able to retain vignettes for a specific parts of this network, if they can prove that a new mode of charging would mean disproportionate costs relative to expected revenue” – says the EU’s announcement.

Changes of road toll rules can be extended to lighter vehicles

The new rules will be extended not only to buses, but also to lighter vehicles, such as, vans, minibuses and passenger cars. EU countries choosing to charge these vehicles will be able to use toll or vignettes systems.

To ensure occasional users and drivers from other EU countries are treated fairly, the provisional deal also created shorter validity periods (one day, one week or 10 days) and price caps on “vignettes” that can be imposed on passenger cars.

Five years from the entry into force of these rules, the Commission will assess the charging practice of light-duty vehicles in order to decide if vans used for commercial purposes should follow the same charging models as lorries and if there should be more robust rules on road charges for private cars” – the EU adds.

More transparency needed

Three years after the entry into force of the agreed rules, member states will report publicly on tolls because „it is important to make sure that the revenues generated from these charges contributes to sustainable transport, infrastructure and mobility”.

The elimination of the vignette for heavy vehicles will standardize a system that is currently excessively fragmented. We will give a strong signal to the world of transport that encourages the use of cleaner vehicles. I am very pleased to have obtained the introduction of the one-day vignette for all vehicles in circulation, which will allow travellers in transit to pay a fair price for their journey. This is also a positive development for tourism: it ensures that travellers will not be penalized” – said EP rapporteur Giuseppe Ferrandino (S&D, IT)

This isn’t yet the final step for the EU road toll legislation

The informal deal on Eurovignette rules still needs to be approved by the Council’s Committee of Permanent Representatives and Parliament’s Transport and Tourism committee, and then the Council and Parliament as a whole.

Photo credit @ TollCollect