Road charging systems for HGVs have been introduced in a number of EU Member States under Directive 1999/62/EC, as modified by Directives 2002/38/EC and 2011/76/EU. These Directives set out the legal basis for charging HGVs for the use of road infrastructure and authorise Member States, if they so wish, to levy user charges, which can be time-based, for example per day, week or year, or distance-based, calculated on the number of kilometres driven. Any such charges must apply to all HGVs, both domestic and foreign, using the Member State’s road infrastructure.
The Irish Government raised serious concerns about the introduction in April 2014 of the HGV road user levy in the UK, including Northern Ireland, and lobbied the UK authorities to exempt Northern Ireland from the charge because of the potential impact on cross-Border trade. However, the UK Minister for Transport rejected this proposal and opted to give only very minor exemptions from the levy to Northern Ireland. Subsequently, the Irish Government, supported by the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment, sought an exemption for the A5 from Derry to Monaghan, as it is a significant transit route from North West Donegal to Dublin. This request, however, was also ultimately rejected by the UK authorities. While it is appreciated that the road user levy has imposed significant additional costs on Irish hauliers operating across the region, the application of the levy is a matter for the UK authorities.