From infrastructure costs to health and environmental impacts – European Commission shares first findings on the true costs of EU transport

The European Commission will today share the preliminary results of a study on the negative effects that transport has on the environment, health, air quality and climate – the so-called external costs. The study also looks at infrastructure costs and how these are covered by relevant taxes and charges. One of the main findings is the extent of the overall external costs of transport, estimated at around € 1 000 billion annually (almost 7% of the gross domestic product of the 28 EU Member States).

The preliminary findings suggest that, for the time being, society largely pays for these costs, rather than the user or polluter. This is generally true for all transport modes. Road users pay for a bigger share of their total costs than rail users if infrastructure costs are included in the calculation. But if infrastructure costs are excluded, rail users pay for a bigger share of their external costs. Air traffic roughly cover the costs of aviation infrastructure, but only a small fraction of the environmental costs of flying. Waterborne transport users pay the smallest share of their total costs compared to users of other modes.