Road charging

Road charging includes various direct fees such as fuel and parking taxes, tolls, congestion charges etc. These charges vary according to the type of a vehicle, time of the day etc.

Road and fuel taxes are imposed to recover the costs related to the use of infrastructure and damage to the environment.

The EU taxes are based on the 'user pays' and 'polluter pays' principles. Road charging in EU aims to generate a new source of revenue to help develop new infrastructure and promote the use of less polluting and more energy-efficient vehicles. For example, the EU Member States can levy additional duties on heavy goods vehicles to cover the cost of air and noise pollution. These rules are supposed to encourage hauliers to invest more in sustainable transport. Additional levies are also used to reduce congestion during peak hours: by introducing different types of fees during peak and off-peak hours.

An annual vehicle tax on heavy goods motor vehicles and vehicle combinations (articulated vehicles and road trains) depends on the number and the configuration of axles. The structure of taxes and the procedures for levying and collecting them fall under the exclusive competence of national authorities.

The EU also uses another instrument to recover costs of constructing, operating and developing infrastructure: distance-related tolls and time-based user charges (vignettes) for heavy goods vehicles (above 3.5 tonnes). Some countries (Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Sweden) have replaced the paper vignette system with the electronic ones.