Share article:
Share article:

The death blow for road tolls in Belgium

A German autobahn © Tarboosh/Wikimedia

A plan to introduce road tolls in Flanders for private cars could be in danger, as it is revealed that a ruling by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg held that a similar road toll in Germany, is in breach of EU law.

The court stated that the German toll discriminates against foreigners. The plan was to bring in an annual toll sticker for all cars from October 202o. It was reckoned that the new charge would yield around 500 million euros a year.

But an objection was raised by the Dutch and Austrian governments, who argued their citizens were discriminated against by the toll. The reason: German taxpayers could offset the cost of the sticker against the existing road tax, but that option was not available to residents of other countries.

The court upheld this argument, stating that the toll is discriminatory as the costs of implementing the system fall entirely on foreign drivers. When determining its ruling, the full court went against the advice of its advocate-general earlier in the year. The advocate-general noted that Germans have to buy a sticker for the whole year, whereas foreigners can buy one for ten days, and only for the Autobahn. The court is not obliged to follow the advice of the advocate-general, but does so more often than not.

The previous Flemish government had plans to introduce a similar road toll, ostensibly to help pay for the cost of roads which are widely used by foreign drivers passing through Belgium. The plans were prematurely revealed shortly before May’s regional elections, and rapidly talked down by mobility minister Ben Weyts as “premature,” but the intention remains, and Weyts’ party N-VA will once again hold the reins of the new government.

At present, a study is underway into the effects of such a road toll, the results of which are expected in September. The other regions are still at the stage of considering the option of introducing a toll.

In the meantime, motoring organisation Touring, which favours a road toll, expressed concern at the consequences of the European Court ruling.

We have been pleading for the existing road tax to be scrapped and replaced by a road toll based on kilometres travelled,” said Touring spokesperson Danny Smagghe. “But foreigners have to pay the Flemish toll on top of road tax in their own country. It’s an open question to what extent that will be acceptable to Europe.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

More politicians than ordinary citizens at the Conference on the Future of Europe
The second Plenary of the Conference took place on Saturday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg and discussed the contributions from the ...
Belgium’s Consultative Committee to meet on Tuesday
The next meeting of Belgium's Consultative Committee, scheduled for Friday, has been brought forward to Tuesday at 4:30 PM, according to local media ...
Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Unilever are world’s biggest plastic polluters
Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Unilever were found to be the world's biggest polluters of plastic in a report published by Branded on Monday. Over 11,000 ...
Four men charged with illegally buying thousands of live ducks to hunt on private land
Four Belgian men will appear in court on Monday facing charges related to the purchase of thousands of ducks, which were then released into a private ...
More wolf attacks: 15 deer killed at family resort over the weekend
Fifteen deer were killed by wolves in the Belgian province of Limburg this weekend, between Saturday night and Sunday morning. The deer were ...
Cost of breast cancer still too high for many patients
Breast cancer still carries too high a cost for patients when one in nine women in Belgium will face the disease before reaching 75, according to a ...
Gare Maritime: Brussels’ most exciting new architectural project
A generation ago, the Gare Maritime in the Tour & Taxis industrial site was an abandoned wasteland. It is now a model for urban renewal and ...
Belgium in Brief: Rules For A Fourth Wave
It's the news that nobody wants to hear, but here we go again. Belgium’s council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss ...
Belgian grandparents to walk across Scotland for COP26
A group of Belgian grandparents has set off on a 100 km hike that will take them from Belgium to the Scottish city of Glasgow, just ahead of the ...
Rise in fuel prices will bring Belgian State €547 million in tax, say Workers Party
The sharp rise in fuel prices that have been felt across the continent will bring an additional €547 million to the Belgian State, the Workers' Party ...
Amid backlash, Brussels police chief promises to do better for sexual assault victims
After multiple rallies against sexual violence took place in Brussels last week, with victims offering testimony of poor treatment from police when ...
Person hit by train in Brussels
A person was hit by a train in the tunnel between Brussels North and Brussels Central at around 10:20 AM on Monday, railway network manager Infrabel ...