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Road charging schemes should not discriminate against foreign drivers
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Published on 15-05-12

UK drivers crossing Europe must not be overcharged compared to local drivers under guidelines published by the European Commission on charging schemes for private cars. The Commission has already forced some member states to make changes to comply with EU rules.

    Road charging schemes should not discriminate against foreign drivers

    Vice-President Siim Kallas said: "Non-discrimination is a fundamental right under EU law. It must be as easy for a French or British citizen to drive across Slovenia or Belgium as it is for a resident driver. Road charging systems must be transparent and fair to all."

    The Commission's preference is for a distance-based toll system as being the fairest and most price transparent option rather than a time-based system which, unless carefully designed, is more likely to cause problems for foreign drivers simply passing through the country.

    If a time-based road charging system is used then the Commission has set out conditions which must be met.  As a minimum, there must be weekly, monthly and yearly rates available to residents and non-residents as well as an acceptable "average daily price ratio".  This shows the difference between rates for non-residents using a short term scheme compared to residents paying an annual charge.

    Currently the average daily price a non-resident pays can vary from 2.5 to up to 8.2 times the price a resident pays.

    The Commission also wants to see clear information for non-residents of the charging schemes so they know what to buy together with an easy range of payment options, including by 'phone and online, as well as at the border.

    Seven member states — Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia — have time-based "vignette" charging schemes for private cars. Belgium is current working to introduce one. The Netherlands and Denmark have discussed introducing road charging systems, including for private cars.

    It is for each EU country to decide if they want to introduce road charges, if at all, for which vehicles and how they will collect the fees.

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    Last update: 23/05/2012  |Top