Road transport: serious delays in establishing a pan-European road toll payment system
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.
What is the report saying?
The report adopted by the Commission concludes that the foreseen target date of 8 October 2012 for EETS availability to heavy duty vehicles will not be met. The report underlines that, despite some achievements made since the adoption of the Commission’s decision (1) on the technical specifications of EETS in 2009, some problems remain such as:
insufficient cooperation between the different groups of stakeholders;
incomplete national legislative and regulatory frameworks in most Member States, where undertakings that would be willing to provide EETS (“EETS providers”) still cannot register officially or lodge complaints against operators managing the tolled roads (the so-called “toll chargers”);
delay in the investments needed to make the existing toll equipment compliant with EU legislation;
lack of viable arrangements to finance the testing required by toll chargers (EETS providers have to demonstrate that their equipment can operate on the toll charger’s infrastructure).
Among the achievements, the report lists:
publication by the Commission of an EETS application guide to help the professional stakeholders, including a list of standards and normative documents of direct relevance to manufacturers and toll system designers;
publication by the Member States of their national EETS domains register providing information to potential EETS providers on all the tolled infrastructures on their territory which must be covered by the service;
adoption by the European standards organisations of standards essential to EETS, both for microwave- and satellite-based tolling systems.
The next steps
The Commission invites Member States to deploy EETS at regional level as a first step towards full European interoperability. The aim is to establish cross-border interoperability of electronic toll systems covering at least a limited number of Member States. The Commission offers its technical and financial assistance to facilitate such projects. These early deployment projects, on a regional basis, will be then extended to cover the entire EU at a later stage.
The Commission also cautions that should the national legislative and regulatory framework still not be in place by 8 October 2012, the Commission will initiate infringement procedures where appropriate.
The report has been sent to the European Parliament and to the Council.
The European legislation obliges Member States and their toll concessionaires to open up their tolling systems to commercial EETS providers and sets out the framework for EETS implementation and deployment (2). EETS is to be available to all vehicle categories by October 2014 at the latest.
Truckers and European road users have complained about the variety of electronic road tolling systems between and often within Member States. For instance, a truck driver travelling from Lisbon to Bratislava via Lyon, Milan, Munich and Vienna, wishing to pay the tolls electronically, currently needs to subscribe to at least seven toll payment contracts with as many concessionaires and to host as many on-board units in the truck’s cabin. This reality on the ground is at odds with the vision of seamless mobility within a single European Transport Area.
Source: EU Commission
In: Connectivity & Automation, Safety