European Parliament approves reduced tolls for low- and zero-emission vehicles

The European Parliament has updated the rules defining the charges member states can impose on vehicles using Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) roads. The aim of the new rules is to shift road charging from a time-based model to a distance-based or kilometers-driven system, to better reflect the polluter-pays and user-pays principles.

Member states will generally phase out time-based vignettes for heavy-duty vehicles (trucks and buses) across the TEN-T network within eight years, and start applying distance-based tolls.

Furthermore, EU countries will be required to establish different rates based on carbon emissions as of 2026, and to reduce the charges for zero- or low-emission vehicles.

As always, the new rules are complex—they include several exceptions designed to ensure that short-term visitors from other countries, and drivers of light vehicles, will be charged fair usage fees.

Three years following the implementation of the new rules, member states will report publicly on tolls and user charges, including information on how they are using the revenue—the goal is that the revenue be used to encourage sustainable transport.

“The elimination of the vignette for heavy vehicles will standardize a system that is currently excessively fragmented,” said European Parliament Rapporteur Giuseppe Ferrandino. “We will encourage the world of transport to use cleaner vehicles. I am very pleased to have obtained the introduction of the one-day vignette for all vehicles in circulation, which will allow travelers in transit to pay a fair price for their journey. This is also a positive development for tourism—it ensures that travelers will not be penalized.”

Source: European Parliament via Green Car Congress