Fuel prices (TERM 021) - Assessment published Sep 2010
Transport (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- TERM 021
Key policy question: Are fuel prices sending the appropriate signals?
Since 1980 the real price of transport fuel (all transport fuels, expressed as the equivalent consumption in unleaded petrol, corrected for inflation to 2005 prices) has fluctuated between 0.75 and 1.25 Euros per litre, with an average of 0.93 Euros. Prices reached a peak in summer 2008 and have since fallen considerably, though with a slight rise again in late 2009. Its price at the end of September 2009 at 0.91 Euros is 7% lower than the price in 1980, 0.99 Euros. As the price of fuel is an important determinant of the demand for transport and the efficiency with which fuel is used, it is clear that price is not currently countering the impact of growth on transport demand.
Information on rail transport fuel prices and charges is not available.
Road transport fuel prices (including taxes) in EU Member States
Note: Road transport fuel prices (including taxes) in EU Member States
Fuel price source 1980 - 1993. Quarterly values taken from original spreadsheet. http://ims.eionet.europa.eu/IMS/ISpecs/ISpecification20070821110939/full_spec
Fuel price source 1994 - 2005, Weekly values taken from Oil Bulletin. , http://ec.europa.eu/energy/observatory/oil/doc/time_series/time_series_country.zip
Fuel price source 2006 onwards Weekly values taken from Oil Bulletin: ,
While nominal prices of transport fuels have increased considerably, the real (inflation corrected with HICP, reference year 2005)) the average price of road fuel in the EU has increased only slightly during the last decade, apart from short periods of price increases due to political instabilities. The price in September 2009 was 7% lower than at the start of the data series in 1980, but close to average price throughout the period of 0.93 Euros.
In the EU-15 Member States, the level of fuel prices and taxes is about 20% below the level in the Eastern European counties (excluding Romania and Bulgaria). However, the accession of the eastern European nations in 2004 did not lead to a reduction of the average fuel price as it occurred at a time of rising crude oil prices.
In all Member States (except for the UK) diesel is taxed less than petrol, leading to lower prices, even though the external costs of diesel vehicles are on average higher than those of petrol vehicles (see TERM25 'External Costs of Transport'). This has contributed to a shift from petrol to diesel vehicles in recent decades. In 1980, petrol accounted for about 70% and diesel for 30% of the fuel sales. More recently, the share of diesel was 58% and unleaded petrol about 42%. This is due to both a growth in road freight transport, and dieselification of the passenger vehicle fleet.
Fuel prices can be used to assess and explain developments in transport demand, as they are closely linked through price elasticities of demand. Changes in the price of fuels can lead to a change in the demand for transport and also has a significant impact in the longer term on the efficiency of vehicles bought by the user. Given that real fuel prices have, apart from short term fluctuations, remained relatively constant over a period during which there was considerable economic growth, it is clear that the price of fuel is not currently sending a strong message in favour of demand reduction and fuel efficiency.
provided by Directorate-General Energy (DG-ENER)
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