European perspectives on a new fiscal framework for transport

Potter, Stephen; Parkhurst, Graham and Lane, Ben (2005). European perspectives on a new fiscal framework for transport. In: Reggiani, Aura and Schintler, Laurie A. eds. Methods and models in transport and telecommunications: Cross-Atlantic perspectives. Advances in spatial science. New York, USA: Springer, pp. 319–333.



This chapter presents an overview of changes in transport taxation in European countries to promote more sustainable transport. A number of changes in the framework of car taxation have resulted in some useful environmental gains. However, these changes are limited because the transport tax system has been designed to produce a substantial income from internal-combustion-engine vehicles in an easily administered form. A major restructuring of transport taxation is required to fully address a different goal – that of stimulating improvements to environmental performance. A generalised road user charging-based system could be the way forward. Such a system is now seen by several European countries and some USA states as the transport taxation regime for the 21st century.

Tax regime change is emerging onto the transport policy agenda as a vital long-term strategy. Largely by default, transport policy-makers are coming to realise that road taxation regime change is inevitable if traffic and congestion management is to be a reality. The way we taxed vehicles and fuel in the 20th century is simply not appropriate for the transport challenges we face today.

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