Brussels to get tough on 'freeloading' at electric car charging stations

Brussels to get tough on 'freeloading' at electric car charging stations
Credit: Belga

Brussels is looking to curb the rising trend of people overstaying their welcome at public electric car charging stations, where there is no fee for parking.

Electric cars that are parked at public charging stations to fill up their battery do not pay parking fees in Brussels, but as a result, some cars keep the spot occupied longer, even after the vehicle is fully charged.

"Residents tell us that some cars occupy the charging station for a whole day," Woluwe-Saint-Lambert's Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy Gregory Matgen told La Dernière Heure. "If the car is connected with a cable, we cannot do anything at the moment, even if charging is completed."

A system is included in the charging station to indicate with a small light the charging status of the vehicle connected to the charging point. Legally, therefore, it is possible to issue fines when charging is complete, but few authorities do this.

However,, which controls parking in more than half of Brussels' 19 municipalities, does not currently penalise connected cars even when charging is complete. There are also no set rules on how long people should be given to collect their fully charged vehicle.

Paid parking?

In response to the issue, the region's Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt has already stated that ending free parking for charging vehicles is being considered. Instead, the parking rates of the zone in which the charging station is located will be applied.

However, Councillor Alexandre Pirson of the municipality of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre is not in favour of the idea, as he argued that those without a garage or charging stations at home should not be penalised.

His municipality has already taken the first initiative to issue fines for cars that are clearly no longer charging, but only after a 15-minute warning using a note on the vehicle.

Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe, however, does welcome the measure, as people with resident cards are not affected, meaning only people who travel from other places and overstay their welcome will be penalised.

Another planned measure is the introduction of a rotation tariff, which will see drivers continue to pay after charging if they leave their vehicle plugged in, and could be implemented from next year. It is hoped this measure will encourage them to move their cars after they are fully charged.

Related News, meanwhile, has announced that it will soon update its control system. Drivers will not be fined if the light on the charging station indicates it is in use (light or dark blue). But if the light is green (available charging station), red (faulty charging station) or off (faulty charging station), a fine of €50 will follow.

Under the current system, any car, both electric or combustion engine cars, will be fined if it is parked in a space designated for recharging without being connected.

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