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Road transport: serious delays in establishing a pan-European road toll payment system

A truck passing under an electronic road toll station

The European Commission has warned that Member States will need to do more to ensure that the European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) deployment is on track. The EU decided in 2004 to implement EETS in order to reduce the hassle for truckers and, later, for all road users by facilitating toll payments across the European Union by means of a single on-board unit and a single service contract. This will result in fewer cash transactions at toll stations and the elimination of cumbersome procedures for cross-border users, thereby improving traffic flow and reducing congestion. European interoperability will reduce the cost of future tolling equipment.

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Transport: EU grants almost €200 million to support key infrastructure projects

TEN-T Project Successes

The European Commission has selected 74 projects that will receive almost €200 million in EU co-financing from the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) programme to continue improving transport infrastructure across the EU. These 74 projects, selected as a result of the 2011 annual call, will use EU financial support for a variety of purposes, ranging from the construction and/or upgrade of current links, support of transport corridors, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and innovative financial instruments.

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[Full list of the selected proposals ]

[TEN-T EA website: TEN-T Project Implementation Successes]

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Background

toll booth

The European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) ensures interoperability of road toll systems — frequently asked questions

What is EETS?

It can be summarised as "one vehicle, one contract, one on-board unit".

EETS will enable road users to pay tolls throughout the European Union (EU) with one subscription contract with one service provider and one on-board unit. The EETS will be available on all infrastructure with electronic tolls, such as motorways, tunnels, bridges, ferries, etc. It will ensure the interoperability of electronic road toll systems on the entire EU road network, limit cash transactions at toll stations and eliminate cumbersome procedures. This will improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.

Why EETS?

A toll is a charge paid by vehicle users to circulate on certain roads or areas. Tolls are generally employed to finance the construction and maintenance of road infrastructure and to tackle rising levels of congestion, noise and pollution. Electronic toll systems were introduced in several European countries in the early 1990s. Twenty million road users currently subscribe to an electronic toll service in the EU. These systems operate with on-board equipment to collect and process data. However, various incompatible systems were set up at national or even local levels. National electronic systems are not often interoperable.

Non-interoperable road toll systems hinder international road transport. Road users must be equipped with on-board units specific to each Member State or tolled domain. So, to travel, for example, from Portugal to the Netherlands five units might be needed. Consequently, transporters need contracts with several road operators, each with their own invoicing and billing procedure. This means time-consuming paperwork and red tape for transporting goods across the EU. Moreover, occasional users have to deal with unfamiliar systems different for each country or domain with the ensuing negative impact on a smooth traffic flow.

How does EETS work in practice?

Under this new system the three main partners are the users, EETS providers and toll chargers.

The EETS provider concludes contracts with users and grants them access to the EETS in the entire EU. The toll charger levies tolls for the circulation of vehicles in an EETS domain — i.e. a part of the EU road network or a structure such as a tunnel, bridge or a ferry subject to toll. Tolling policies remain to be decided by the Member States in compliance with EU legislation.

The EETS ensures interoperability between all the electronic road toll systems in the European Union, using the technologies of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) and satellite positioning associated with mobile communications.

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