The new EU mandate is part of a package of measures aimed at sustainable mobility. Motorway tolls will be adjusted to take vehicles’ CO2 emissions into account.
As of 2023 electric vehicles will enjoy significant reductions in tolls across European motorways. The measure is part of the mandate on road charging, which was the subject of discussions by the European Union. The aim is to promote the transition towards electric mobility and help people driving less polluting vehicles.
Criteria to be applied
Initially the reductions will apply to heavy goods vehicles, but the scope of the rules could then be extended to cover other vehicles that member states may wish to apply incentives to – such as buses, vans and passenger cars. Countries will be able to apply tolls and user charges for each type of vehicle, independently of each other. In addition, member states may put in place reduced toll rates or user charges, or, under specific conditions, exempt vehicles from the obligation to pay tolls or user charges under specific conditions.
One change to the current system is that charges will be calculated on the basis of CO2 emissions, with variations based on the existing standards. These directives are for new vehicles; member states may continue to apply the current charge variation based on EURO emission classes for the existing fleet.
All member states that apply road charging will have until the end of 2022 to implement the mandate. This incentive will be in addition to those already in place, such as the exemption from road tax and reduced insurance costs.
Calculating the toll
As of 2023, then, the toll charged on European motorways will not only be a kilometres-based calculation – it will also take into account CO2 emissions using a specific indexation formula, thus granting the biggest reduction to electric vehicles.
The European Council
“The Council has shown its ambition in terms of reaching the sustainability and environmental targets in road transport. This revision of road pricing will cover not just air and noise pollution but also CO2 emissions,” explained Andreas Scheuer, German Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, President of the Council. This will promote cleaner and more efficient transport, helping to reduce emissions and effectively address global warming.
The application of the mandate by member states
The European Council mandate provides a toolbox for member states to levy charges for the use of roads in order to reduce pollution from transport, make traffic flow more smoothly and recover costs related to the construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure.
Each state can choose which charging model to implement, adapting it to its own specific geography, population density and road network. For example, time-based charging could be an alternative to distance-based charging.
A long journey towards zero emissions
The mandate has its origins in a journey that began in May 2017 when the European Commission presented its proposal for a revised Eurovignette directive as part of the first mobility package.
Road charging remains a national choice in the European Union, and member states can choose whether or not to introduce it on their territory. However, if they do opt to levy charges, they must follow certain common rules laid down at a European level to ensure that the imposition of road charges does not distort competition between transport operators. Member states may also adjust charges to reduce transport-related pollution.
The path set out by the EU is clear: incentivise and promote the transition to sustainable mobility by making use of all the tools available. For this reason, we should expect to see more and more measures aimed at promoting zero-emission vehicles.
Source: Council of the EU