Road taxation and spending in the EU

At the request of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), CE Delft has reviewed the infrastructure costs of road transport in EU member states and compared them with the revenues from taxes and charges paid by road vehicle users and operators. This was done for passenger cars, motorcycles, vans, buses and trucks.

The main conclusions of the study are as follows:
  • Throughout the EU, revenues from dedicated road-traffic taxes and charges exceed the infrastructure costs for cars, motorcycles and vans. For buses, in contrast, infrastructure costs are substantially higher than revenues, while for trucks the costs and revenues are approximately in balance. It is important to note, however, that the external costs of road traffic (e.g. CO2 and air-pollutant emissions) were not included in the study, which does not therefore provide a full estimate of the social costs of road transport.
  • Revenues from dedicated transport taxes and charges in the EU totalled approximately € 286 billion in 2013. Cars were responsible for most of this figure (71%), owing mainly to the large share of these vehicles in overall traffic.
  • Road-transport infrastructure costs in 2013 were estimated at €178 billion, around half of which (54%) is attributable to cars. Per vehicle-kilometre, however, infrastructure costs are highest for buses and trucks, as these heavy vehicles cause more damage to road infrastructure.
  • Owing to the economic crisis, expenditure on road infrastructure has declined dramatically. In southern and eastern Europe, particularly, this expenditure was substantially lower in 2008-2013 than in the previous 15 years.
The results of this study have a margin of uncertainty, especially with respect to estimated infrastructure costs. This is because the reliability of statistics on infrastructure expenditure varies considerably across EU member states. Despite these uncertainties, though, the general conclusions of the study are robust.

Road taxation and spending in the EU

Authors CE

Maarten 't Hoen
Arno Schroten

Delft, June 2016