CO2 QUOTE Closing from Cierre del 11-04-2024 66,72 €/T

Regulations on road pricing in the EU (eurovignette): the Presidency reaches an informal agreement with Parliament

Negotiators from the Council and the European Parliament today reached a political agreement on the revision of road charging rules (Eurovignette Directive), to address greenhouse gas emissions and other types of environmental impact, congestion and road infrastructure financing.

The agreement reached today on road charging, which provides for stricter and more far-reaching standards, as well as a new system to deal with CO emissions2, is a key element in the decarbonisation of transport and the achievement of climate objectives in line with the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement. The agreement, which incentivises cleaner transport operations, sends a clear message and provides legal certainty to vehicle manufacturers and hauliers for the next decade, as requested by industry, environmental organisations and other stakeholders. The conclusion of negotiations on this proposal has been one of the main priorities of the Portuguese Presidency.

Pedro Nuno Santos, Minister of Infrastructure and Housing of Portugal, President of the Council

Distance-based tolls and time-based charges (badges)

Temporary badges will be phased out for heavy-duty vehicles from the TEN-T core network within eight years of the entry into force of the Directive. Where Member States apply a common system of badges, such as the Treaty on the Eurovignette, they shall have an additional two years to adapt or eliminate that system.

Roads subject to phase-out represent the main routes on which most of the international commercial vehicle traffic circulates. Member States may continue to apply badges in other parts of their network.

Derogations from the phasing out of badges are allowed in duly justified cases, such as if there is low population density or where the badge applies to a limited stretch of road, after notification to the Commission.

Member States will also have the option of establishing a combined charging system for heavy-duty vehicles, or for certain types of heavy-duty vehicles, which would bring together elements depending on distance and duration and integrate the two variation tools (the new one, which is based on CO emissions).2 and the existing one, which is based on the EURO categories). This system will allow the full application of the ‘user pays’ and ‘polluter pays’ principles and will provide Member States with the necessary flexibility to design their own road charging systems.

However, as a basic principle of road charging, Member States retain the freedom to apply tolls and charges to different categories of vehicles, such as heavy goods vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, coaches and buses, light vehicles, light commercial vehicles, minibuses and passenger cars, independently of each other. For example, Member States may decide not to charge charges on buses.

The rules on the proportionality of the prices of passenger car badges shall include the obligation to apply a daily badge to vehicles or occasional passengers in transit.

Greening of road charging

A new EU-wide instrument will be established for infrastructure charges and charges for heavy-duty vehicles to vary according to CO2 emissions, as set out in the Council’s original position. The variation will be based on existing CO2 standards. In principle, the system will only apply to larger lorries, but may be gradually extended to other types of heavy-duty vehicles and regularly adapted to technological developments by means of implementing acts.

Some improvements have been made to the Council’s position, which aim to ensure that hybrid vehicles are not rewarded twice and to avoid any possible overlap of co2 variation with other carbon pricing instruments.

The variation in tolls or charges based on environmental efficiency shall apply to vans and minibuses from 2026, where technically feasible.

External costs fee

Charging of external costs for air pollution shall be mandatory for heavy-duty vehicles after a four-year transition period, during which tolls shall apply. However, Member States may waive this fee, subject to notification to the Commission, if this results in a diversion of traffic which has unintended negative consequences. In any event, Member States may apply an external-cost charge to CO2 emissions.

Impact on income and surcharges

The fundamental principles of affecting the revenue generated by road charging will remain unchanged. In general, Member States should allocate the revenue they generate through infrastructure charges and external-cost charges to projects in the transport sector, in particular in support of the trans-European transport network. However, they are not obliged to do so. As regards the revenue generated by optional congestion charges, or their equivalent in financial value, Member States shall use them to solve congestion-related problems, or to develop sustainable transport and mobility in general.

The rules will allow Member States to apply a higher surcharge (up to 50 %) to the infrastructure charge required on certain sections of road with high congestion, if all Member States concerned agree.

Exemptions

The agreed text includes a number of exemptions, for example in relation to existing concession contracts, persons with disabilities and sparsely populated areas.

Next steps

Some work remains to be done at technical level to finalise the text and then the Presidency will present the outcome of the negotiations to the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) for approval.

It will then be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament.

Member States shall have two years from the entry into force of the Directive to transpose it into their national law.

Context: EU road charging rules

Road charging in the EU is a national competence, and Member States may or may not decide to impose it on their territory. However, in case they choose to charge fees, they must follow a series of common rules set out in the Eurovignette Directive. The aim is to prevent the imposition of road charges from discriminating against international traffic or leading to distortions of competition between transport operators.

The Commission presented the proposal to revise the Eurovignette Directive in May 2017, as part of the first mobility package.

Fountain: European Council. Council of the European Union