Electronic toll systems can offer the possibility of charging road vehicles in a flexible way and allow targeted infrastructure charging policies. However, it is essential for such systems to be interoperable, also across national borders, to avoid creating new obstacles to traffic flow in Europe.
Directive 2004/52/EC lays down the conditions for the interoperability of electronic road toll systems in the European Union. Interoperability shall enable road users to circulate throughout the EU without having to be concerned by different charging procedures and without having to install equipment specific to the different charging zones, so that paying charges would be a seamless operation.
The Directive also foresees a European Electronic Toll Service (EETS), by which road users can subscribe a single contract with one EETS provider and, using a single on-board unit, pay tolls electronically throughout the whole EU. The main purpose of the EETS is to make EETS available on all electronically tolled infrastructures in the entire EU and, by limiting cash transactions at toll stations, to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
The Commission decision which defined the specifications of EETS entered into force in October 2009. Within three years EETS has to be available for vehicles above 3.5 tonnes and/or allowed to carry more than nine passengers (including the driver), and within five years for all other categories of vehicles. The Commission is preparing a report on the implementation of EETS.