Draft Action 3: Reducing diversity of Urban Vehicle Access Regulations

  • Lea (Communicat... profile
    Lea (Communicat...
    5 February 2018 - updated 1 year ago
    Total votes: 3
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Following on the Action Plan on urban mobility of 2009, the Commission published a Study on Urban Vehicle Access Restrictions (UVARs) which found that the situation in Member States varied considerably when it comes to legal basis and practices. The Commission's Urban Mobility Package (UMP) of 2013 recognised the important role that Member States play in providing the right framework conditions for local action.

For very good reasons, cities across the EU are implementing, or considering implementation of UVARs, such as congestion or Low-Emission Zones (LEZs). This is due to growing evidence and awareness of effects of air pollution on health, rising congestion (and related negative costs to the society) and the fact that real world driving emissions in a number of cases exceed the limits set down in EU legislation. It is also because cities need to take such action to comply with legal obligations set down in the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive. Growing number of schemes may create confusion for citizens and businesses, and is seen by some as a limitation to the freedom of movement. It is also difficult, and in some cases impossible, to enforce UVAR rules against vehicles from other Member States.

The European Commission currently receives many inquiries concerning the diversity among urban access regulation schemes in the EU and the lack of their harmonisation; fragmentation of approaches leads to inefficiencies. This suggests there may be a need to examine the various schemes to see if any actions could be taken at relevant level to address such concerns.


1.   Ensuring transparency of UVAR schemes locally in effect and making available relevant centralised information to the public/travellers/commercial traffic: this is already being supported by the Commission, however new, more effective means could be necessary.

2.   Beyond technical issues, the decision of setting up a scheme should also include all aspects of planning and implementation. This means ensuring an effective consultation with the public and other relevant stakeholders.

3.   Public authorities should make accurate real time traffic information available to users through effective implementation of EU specifications for Intelligent Transport Systems as per Directive 2010/40/EU and its delegated regulations.

4.   Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP) can provide the overarching context and rationale within which a UVAR can be placed and promoted.

5.   There seems to be a need for guidance at the EU level; a support study has been performed to help cities implement UVAR schemes effectively and is available on the Commission's website.

6.   It should be explored whether common technical standard, based on interoperability of IT solutions, could be found EU-wide for implementing and charging for the schemes, so that there is no need for separate stickers, vignettes etc. anymore. The Directive on the interoperability of electronic road toll systems, could constitute a basis or source of inspiration for achieving such interoperability. It should be recalled, in this regard, that the Commission recently proposed to extend the scope of the Directive to electronic toll systems using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), a technology suitable for and used in many city-based access regulation schemes.

7.   More effective enforcement is necessary, with increased visibility for pan-European service for collecting fines from UVARs and LEZs violation; this could be ensured with the EETS Directive above.


1.   Increase transparency of the schemes and make available relevant information to the public easier, more effective and increasingly digital, by e.g. using the existing tool (www.urbanaccessregulations.eu) as a starting point (local/national/EU levels).

2.   Member States to effectively implement EU Directive on Intelligent Transport Systems in order to make accurate real time traffic information available to users and encourage cities to go beyond by making data available at national access points (local/national levels).

3.   Collect the evidence on existing schemes and assess their effectiveness and impact when it comes to attaining the stated goals such as reduction of congestion and air pollution (subject to availability of resources) (EU level).

4.   Address fragmentation and patchwork of the schemes while respecting the subsidiarity principle inter alia by:

  • Member States and cities to work together on addressing the issue, working on commonalities, facilitating the exchange of data in the context of Low Emission Zones (LEZs) and the exchange of vehicle data pertaining to infringements in context of UVARs and LEZs; Commission to facilitate this via the Member States Expert Group on Urban Mobility and to explore the possibility to set-up (digital) information exchange platform involving cities, manufacturers and users (local/national/EU levels).
  • Revise the guidelines on Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP) to better include UVARs so that they can be properly designed, placed and promoted (EU level).
  • Issue guidance at the EU level exploring possible commonalities of the schemes. The thematic recommendations of the recently published Commission study on UVAR  could be used as a starting point (EU level).
  • Analyse the possibility of a common interoperable standard and more effective enforcement of cross-border violations of UVARs and LEZs, by exploring common grounds with the legal framework for EU tolling system and the EU-wide database of vehicles (local/national/EU levels).

See also: