17 December 2018


European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and the Directorate-General for Transport and Mobility (DG MOVE)  invited transport stakeholders to discuss first insights from a study on sustainable transport infrastructure charging and the internalisation of transport externalities.You will find more information here.


Multimodal sust transport 01


The event was organised as a part of the 2018 Year of Multimodality.

During the conference, the preliminary results of the study on the issue of internalising the external costs of transport (e.g. via appropriate pricing, which has been on the agenda as long back as the 2011 White Paper) were presented.


Multimodal sust transport 02 Multimodal sust transport 03


While many studies have been carried out and also individual initiatives have been taken forward on this basis, notably on road pricing in the Eurovignette Directive, a comprehensive up-to-date overview of the external effects compared with internalisation measures of different transport modes has been missing. A systematic analysis of transport infrastructure costs is also not available.

This is why the European Commission services have decided in 2017 to try and establish in a comprehensive way the underlying facts and figures, with a view to inform future policy debates.

The purpose of the work is to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date overview of the state of play regarding the “user pays” and “polluter pays” principles.


Multimodal sust transport 04


The preliminary results allow for first tentative yet important insights: the overall size of transport external costs is estimated at around 1,000 billion euro annually. To put this in context, this corresponds to almost 7% of EU28 GDP.

These include external costs related to accidents, environment (air pollution, climate change, the costs related to energy production, i.e. the well-to-tank emissions, noise, habitat damage) and, only for road, congestion costs of more than 250 billion Euro. Infrastructure costs are not included in this figure. These external costs are a quantification in monetary terms of non-market items, merely expressed as % of GDP for an idea of their size. Therefore they cannot, for instance, be compared to the share of transport in the economy.

The level of external costs is significantly higher than previously quantified for most categories. This is partly due to an increase of the real external effects, but also reflects a different, updated methodology — new research results have been taken into account, and other developments such as the real-life emissions have also been reflected.

The final study report will provide a large number of indicators to illustrate these points, as described in the following section. A breakdown by Member States will be available.

The outstanding building blocks of the study will look into exploiting the data collected analytically so as to establish:

(i)    to what extent revenues from infrastructure charges cover expenditure on:

  1. a) maintenance, and
  2. b) maintenance and capital costs together;

(ii)   who bears the costs (public sector, the general public, transport users) per mode and how the users of different modes compare in terms of compliance with the 'polluter pays' and 'user pays' principles?;

(iii)   what is the potential for further internalisation? And;

(iv)   how internalisation measures are deployed in countries as part of a wider policy toolbox aimed at more sustainable transport (e.g. subsidies/incentives which complement road tolls)?

This will also include cross-country and cross-mode comparisons based on taxation and incentives. Notwithstanding the methodological challenges, the findings of this study, once completed, will be an important input for forthcoming debates on the future of EU transport policies.

Given the importance of the discussion on external costs, FEPORT is looking forward to having a good exchange with the EU Commission once the final version of the report is available.