Brussels, 6 June 2019

On the 6th of June, the European Commission published its study on “Sustainable Transport Infrastructure Charging and Internalisation of Transport Externalities.”

The results of the study are expected to be taken into account in the framework of the review of the “2011 Transport White Paper”, to be published end of 2020.

The objective of the study was to assess the extent to which existing policies internalise the external and infrastructure costs of various transport modes in Europe and to set out ways by which further internalisation can be achieved.

One of the main findings of the study is that the total external costs of all transport modes in EU28 are estimated at nearly €1 trillion annually, which is equivalent to 7% of EU’s GDP. In general, the most important cost category is accident costs equating to 29% of the total costs, followed by congestion costs (27%). Overall, environmental costs (climate change, air pollution, noise, well-to-tank and habitat damage) make up the remaining 44% of the total costs.

Road transport (and particularly passenger cars) is the largest contributor to external costs (83% of the total costs, €820 billion). The total external costs for rail transport and inland waterways (IWT) amount to €18 billion and €3 billion, respectively. Regarding aviation and maritime transport, the external costs in the EU28 are roughly estimated to be €48 and €98 billion. For freight transport, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) have the highest costs, followed by IWT, rail transport and maritime transport.

The results of the study demonstrate that the external and infrastructure costs of transport in the EU28 are only partly internalised. For most transport modes, only 15-25% of these costs are covered by revenues from current transport taxes and charges. There is also little evidence that marginal social cost pricing principles are applied on a large scale in transport pricing in the EU28. Finally, for most transport modes (except maritime transport and aviation) the infrastructure costs are not covered by infrastructure charges, reflecting that the ‘users-pays’ principle is often not met.