European Commission study examines Urban Vehicle Access Regulations

The European Commission recently published a study on Urban Vehicle Access Regulations (UVAR) that aims to assist policy makers in their implementation.

UVARs are measures that regulate vehicular access to urban infrastructure. Examples include congestion charging, low-emission zones (LEZ), and restrictions on certain types of vehicles.                                      

A proliferation in the ways in which they are implemented has led to a fragmentation of UVAR schemes across Europe. With this comes the risk that possible benefits relating to economies of scale will be limited, whilst achieving Europe-wide compliance with UVAR standards also becomes more difficult.

To create a more common approach amongst cities and Member States to issues such as vehicle categories, enforcement, exemptions, pricing, and information provision, six non-binding guidance documents (NBGDs) have been composed. They form the core of the study.

The topics they explore are:

  • Information and communication;
  • Vehicle types, exemptions, and (cross-border) enforcement;
  • Planning, consultation, and design;
  • National legal frameworks;
  • Evaluation and assessment;
  • Technology options and interoperability.

A set of recommendations based upon the NBDGs has been developed for cities considering the introduction of a UVAR scheme. Examples include:

  • UVARs should be integrated into a larger transport and mobility plan. A local or regional Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) serves as the ideal vehicle for them. UVARs aid the promotion of sustainable mobility measurers and compliance with air quality legislation, both key SUMP goals.
  • Local  authorities could consider  exempting cars running on  zero  emission  devices, such  as  battery-electric  and  fuel cell-electric vehicles, from LEZ access limitations.
  • In areas such as air pollution and CO2 emissions, national legislation should be clearly linked to EU and national policy goals. Legislation should also guide cities on how they can establish sustainable mobility alternatives.

The full NBGDs form annexes to the study. A list of barriers and enablers and best practice examples are also included within them.

The study is based upon an extensive literature review, expert and stakeholder workshops, and an online consultation.

To read it in full, visit For further information on UVARs throughout Europe, click here..

Cities looking for more information on UVARs can visit the Commission-funded CLARS Platform.

A free CIVITAS e-learning course on UVARS can also be found here.

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