Last reviewed 31 October 2012

Henrietta Clarke reports on the European Electronic Toll Service, designed to facilitate travelling across Europe when passing through a number of tolled road networks.

Introduction

The European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) allows drivers who wish to do so to drive on a wide range of tolled infrastructure across the EU using a single payment account and one piece of electronic equipment. EU countries have to ensure that tolled undertakings are in a position to allow EETS providers to operate on their infrastructure by October 2012 for heavy goods vehicles over 3.5t and vehicles that are allowed to carry more than nine passengers, including the driver. By October 2014, all vehicles must be able to use EETS.

EETS will ensure the interoperability of tolling services on the entire EU road network and it will enable road users to pay tolls easily throughout the EU with only one subscription contract with one service provider and a single on-board unit. This will make things easier for road users by limiting cash transactions at toll stations, which will in turn improve traffic flow and reduce congestion. It will also avoid the proliferation of incompatible systems.

Interoperability of electronic road toll systems

EETS is being introduced as a result of a 2004 Directive which laid down the conditions for the interoperability of electronic road toll systems to allow road users to circulate throughout the EU without having to be concerned with different charging procedures and having to install equipment specific to the different charging zones. The European Commission (EC) defined EETS in 2009, setting out the essential requirements for interoperability between the EETS providers and toll chargers’ equipment and procedures, as well as procedural, contractual and legal aspects relating to EETS provision. The rights and obligations of EETS providers, toll chargers and EETS users are also laid down.

Coverage

EETS has to cover all the road networks and tolled infrastructures in the EU on which tolls or road usage fees are collected electronically. Member States are not required to replace their current electronic toll systems by EETS nor are they prevented from bringing into service new national or local toll systems as long as they use the technological solutions laid down in the Directive, namely satellite positioning, mobile communications using the GSM-GPRS standard or 5.8 GHz microwave technology.

EETS is independent of the fundamental decisions by Member States to levy tolls on particular types of vehicles, the level of charges and the purpose for which such charges are levied. It concerns only the method of collecting tolls or fees. EETS does not require the introduction of any new tolls or changes to existing tolls.

EETS users

EETS users can subscribe to the service through any EETS provider, regardless of nationality, country of residence or country in which the vehicle is registered. When entering into a contract, EETS users are informed about the processing of their personal data and the rights stemming from applicable legislation on the protection of personal data. The toll charged by toll chargers to users cannot exceed the corresponding national or local toll. EETS providers may, however, choose to charge their customers for their service. When invoicing individual EETS users, the providers have to clearly separate their service charges and the tolls incurred and specify, unless the user decides otherwise, the time at which and the location where the tolls were incurred. EETS is not compulsory for any driver.

Register of EETS providers

Each EU country has to keep a national electronic register of the EETS domains in their country, including information on the corresponding toll chargers and the EETS providers who have contracts with the toll chargers. Toll chargers have to keep on their website an easily accessible public list of all EETS providers with whom they have a contract.

The EC is preparing a report on the implementation of EETS.