The European Transport Policy is promoting the application of the user-pays principle and the polluter pays principle to the users of road infrastructure. As regards heavy goods vehicles, Directive 1999/62/EC provides the legal framework at European level. However, no such legislation exists to cover private vehicles (passenger cars, motorcycles and light commercial vehicles below 3.5 tonnes).
The Commission monitors that the charging schemes of Member States, which already apply tolls or user charges (vignettes) for private vehicles, comply with the European Transport Policy goals and the treaty principles of non-discrimination and proportionality. Tolls or vignettes in place must be proportionate and not discriminate on the grounds of nationality or the country of residence of road users (Article 18 of the Treaty). Particularly, the price of long-term vignettes must be proportionate to the price of short-term vignettes in order not to discriminate against occasional users.
Study on Impacts of application of the vignette systems to Private Vehicles (Published in February 2012)
The study was commissioned to support the Commission in preparing Communication on the application of national road infrastructure charges (vignettes) levied on light private vehicles [94 KB] that would provide guidance for Member States, when introducing their vignette system, on proportionality and non-discrimination, as well as user friendliness and environmental efficiency. It analyses the problems/shortcomings of existing vignette systems and provides qualitative assessment of their impacts.
The study was commissioned to assess the approach taken by seven Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) in applying road user charges (vignettes) to private vehicles. The study, which reflects the views of the consultants, assessed to which extent these systems are consistent with the objectives of the Treaty and the European Transport Policy. It includes recommendations on how to improve such systems.
Guidelines for non-discriminatory vignette systems for cars:
Key questions and answers (14/05/2012)