While urban access regulations may seem to restrict where you can drive a diesel vehicle, modern Euro 6 models will continue to be welcome in most cities across Europe.
If you are planning on driving through Europe, you may be concerned about the increasing number of cities announcing restrictions on diesel vehicles. To improve air quality and reduce emissions, many cities are setting restrictions on what vehicles are allowed to be driven where and when. We explain what this will mean for drivers throughout Europe.
The EU and emissions regulations
Since the early nineties, the EU has continuously tightened emissions standards set for car models and other vehicles in an effort to combat increasing pollution.
Each set of standards from the first to the latest set in 2020 (Euro 6d) imposed limits on the total amount of certain exhaust gas emissions from a car, specifically: carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. A key objective of these emissions standards is to improve air quality.
Some cities are nevertheless facing some persistent pollution problems and are also taking local action to improve air quality. Many urban areas are transitioning to zone restrictions and bans of older, more polluting cars that fall under earlier Euro emission standards in order to encourage the adoption of cleaner cars such as Euro 6 models.
Urban access regulations
While vehicle emission standards are the same across the EU, individual cities have a range of different restrictions, zones and plans for the future reduction of emissions.
Low Emission Zones (LEZs) within cities where access is limited or even restricted for the most polluting vehicles, are an effective measure to improve air quality. These zones can enforce permanent access restriction, car-free days and alternating day or hour restrictions depending on the classification of the vehicle.
Drivers can still choose diesel and contribute to improving air pollution, while also complying with local restrictions. We have compiled an overview of urban access rules in six key European cities to demonstrate that driving a diesel in Europe is not as complicated as it may at first appear:
London, United Kingdom
The Urban Access Regulations website provides comprehensive information on urban access regulation schemes, including urban road user tolling, LEZs and other access restriction schemes across the EU. The European Consumer Center also provides an overview of LEZs in EU Member States for people driving across the EU.
Euro 6 models: the diesel of the future
Local restrictions and access regulations vary from city to city. The EU has hundreds of different measures or schemes across Member States to date. A 2017 study released by the European Commission noted that this “there is a general lack of understanding of urban vehicle access regulations”, and leaves many citizens with diesel-powered vehicles confused about when and where they can drive.
While differences in local and national priorities may halt EU-wide legislation from taking effect, there is work being done at a European level to provide vital planning, stakeholder consultation, evaluation methodology, enforcement and design guidelines for cities.
Drivers can choose new diesel models and contribute to improving air pollution, while also complying with local restrictions
As time goes on, the EU will continue to prioritise reducing air pollution in order to have a positive impact on European health, life expectancy and economic costs. Changes to urban access regulations across the EU aim to increase drivers’ awareness of the impact that driving has on the environment and encourage the adoption of cleaner diesel vehicles such as Euro 6d.
In the coming years, most urban access regulations are set to be tightened, making Euro 6 the diesel of the future for cities, Member States and the EU.