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Brussels, 7 September 2012
The European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) ensures interoperability of road toll systems — frequently asked questions
What is EETS?
It can be summarised as "one vehicle, one contract, one on-board unit".
EETS will enable road users to pay tolls throughout the European Union (EU) with one subscription contract with one service provider and one on-board unit. The EETS will be available on all infrastructure with electronic tolls, such as motorways, tunnels, bridges, ferries, etc. It will ensure the interoperability of electronic road toll systems on the entire EU road network, limit cash transactions at toll stations and eliminate cumbersome procedures. This will improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
A toll is a charge paid by vehicle users to circulate on certain roads or areas. Tolls are generally employed to finance the construction and maintenance of road infrastructure and to tackle rising levels of congestion, noise and pollution. Electronic toll systems were introduced in several European countries in the early 1990s. Twenty million road users currently subscribe to an electronic toll service in the EU. These systems operate with on-board equipment to collect and process data. However, various incompatible systems were set up at national or even local levels. National electronic systems are not often interoperable.
Non-interoperable road toll systems hinder international road transport. Road users must be equipped with on-board units specific to each Member State or tolled domain. So, to travel, for example, from Portugal to the Netherlands five units might be needed. Consequently, transporters need contracts with several road operators, each with their own invoicing and billing procedure. This means time-consuming paperwork and red tape for transporting goods across the EU. Moreover, occasional users have to deal with unfamiliar systems different for each country or domain with the ensuing negative impact on a smooth traffic flow.
How does EETS work in practice?
Under this new system the three main partners are the users, EETS providers and toll chargers.
The EETS provider concludes contracts with users and grants them access to the EETS in the entire EU. The toll charger levies tolls for the circulation of vehicles in an EETS domain — i.e. a part of the EU road network or a structure such as a tunnel, bridge or a ferry subject to toll. Tolling policies remain to be decided by the Member States in compliance with EU legislation.
The EETS ensures interoperability between all the electronic road toll systems in the European Union, using the technologies of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) and satellite positioning associated with mobile communications.
What does EETS mean for road users?
Users may subscribe to the EETS provider of their choice. The latter will generally provide or, depending on its contracting policy, accept existing on-board equipment if it fulfils the relevant technical requirements.
A single contract with a single EETS provider will alleviate users’ administrative burden and simplify the movement of goods and people across the EU as they will be charged directly by their provider for the toll incurred by their vehicles while circulating in the entire EU.
The EETS is a continuous service: no in-vehicle human intervention is required if the vehicle’s toll classification parameters do not change.
Drivers will not be distracted by multiple boxes (sometimes requiring a specific action on their part for each unit) on their dashboard and they will not have to know the specificities of each and every electronic road toll system they are going to encounter.
Drivers will no longer have to queue at toll booths, thereby avoiding traditional toll-related traffic disruptions. As a result, they will experience, to the benefit of the environment, more fluid and safer traffic and ultimately quicker journeys.
Eventually the EETS should allow the generalisation of free-flow (barrier-free) tolling, also across borders, as soon as it is fully put into place.
In addition to tolling, the EETS on-board equipment should be able in the future to host other location-based services, like satellite navigation systems, emergency calls with accurate caller location, route information, traffic monitoring, guidance and routing, etc.
Member States shall ensure that the processing of personal data is carried out in accordance with the relevant Community rules protecting the freedoms and fundamental rights of individuals.
What does it mean for EETS providers?
EETS providers act as an intermediary between users and toll chargers for the payment of tolls. Furthermore they can also provide additional location-based services making use of the EETS on-board equipment.
EETS providers must register in a Member State where they are established, conditional to certain technical, financial and management quality criteria. They are entitled to approach any toll charger to obtain access to the EETS domains under this toll charger’s responsibility.
EETS providers must always keep their customers informed whether their EETS subscription is valid prior to entering an EETS domain. They have the obligation to inform their users of the processing of their travel information and the personal data measures implemented.
Member States and the European Commission will monitor whether an EETS provider fulfils its obligations and take appropriate actions in case of infringement.
What does it mean for toll chargers?
Toll chargers have no direct contact with EETS users, except for enforcement where necessary. They therefore no longer have to perform detailed user management and can thus concentrate on road and traffic management.
Toll chargers must publish an ‘EETS domain statement’ outlining the general conditions for EETS providers to access their toll domains. An EETS provider meeting these requirements should obtain access on a non-discriminatory basis and their on-board equipment fulfilling the technical requirements shall be accepted by the toll charger with whom they conclude a contract.
Toll chargers have to publish as well the list of all the EETS providers operating on their domains and are responsible for the application of the tolling policies.
What are the EETS milestones?
The Commission decision on EETS definition entered into force on 8 October 2009 and was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 13 October 2009. Subsequently, the EETS is to be available within three years for vehicles above 3.5 tonnes and/or allowed to carry more than nine passengers (including the driver), i.e. until 13 October 2012 — and within five years for all types of vehicle, i.e. until 13 October 2014.
Please see also: IP/12/943