The European Commission has released a comprehensive compilation of existing studies on external costs in the transport sector. This handbook, jointly prepared by several transport research institutes, summarizes the state of the art as regards the valuation of external costs. The Commission intends to make use of the handbook as one element that prepares the communication on the internalization of external costs for all modes of transport that is due in June 2008 and a proposal to revise the directive on the charging of heavy goods vehicles.

The handbook assembles best practice methods to estimate and monetize the external costs generated by transport activities. It concentrates on air pollution, noise, climate change, congestion and accidents in road transport that constitutes the overwhelming share of transport external costs, but it also considers other external costs and other modes of transport. It brings together the key parameters to apply these methods as well as examples of unit values per traveled distance according to typical traffic situations, as for instance air pollution cost of a lorry in an urban area. The handbook will help policy makers and other interested parties value external costs when developing policy measures for internalization. It shows that external costs depend strongly on parameters like vehicle characteristics (EURO standards), location (urban or interurban) and the period of time (peak, off-peak and night time).

The handbook was compiled by a consortium of research institutes from different countries and its content commits solely their authors. This release is part of the process launched by the Commission to prepare a communication on a strategy for the stepwise integration of the external costs into the price to be paid for transport services, as requested under the directive on the charging for heavy goods vehicles [1]. As part of this process, technical workshops were held with industry representatives, environmental organizations and scientific experts. The preliminary findings of this handbook were subject to a peer review by scientific experts from member States.

In parallel, a broad public consultation was organized by the Commission services on possible ways to internalize these external costs. The results of this public consultation, which ended in December 2007, will be presented and discussed at a High Level stakeholders’ conference on 31.1.2008 with the participation of Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot.