One of the worst enemies of European motorists for the last two years or so, fuel prices are now in a phase of decline that is finally giving wallets some breathing space. However, filling up the tank is still too expensive, not only because of the rise in international oil prices, but also because taxes continue to weigh heavily on wallets, particularly in certain countries.

Yes... but what impact does taxation have on petrol and diesel prices in Europe? The answer varies from country to country, but broadly speaking, taxes account for around half of the cost of filling up the tank. Let's take a closer look.

What are fuel prices made up of?

To begin with, let's look at how fuel prices are made up. There are four main components: excise duty, VAT, the industrial price and the gross margin. The first is made up of taxes introduced on certain products to finance certain emergencies, which have since become fixed. The second is the famous "value added tax". The third represents the cost of oil and its refining, and the fourth is distributors' profits. To sum up :

  • excise duty
  • VAT
  • industrial price
  • gross margin

Taxes are represented by the first two elements.

Homme faisant le plein de sa voiture à une station-service

Excise duty on fuels in Europe

If we now play with the figures published by the European Commission, we see that excise duty on petrol in Europe (including the UK) averages around 55.5 cents per litre (cent/litre). The lowest and highest peaks are in Hungary (33.6 cent/litre) and the Netherlands (82.1 cent/litre). The UK ranks ninth (63.2 cent/litre).

All the other data is shown in the table below, where it can be seen that 13 countries are above the average and 15 below.

Country Excise duty on petrol (€/l)
Netherlands 0,821
Italy 0,728
Finland 0,722
Greece 0,713
France 0.691
Ireland 0.656
Germany 0.654
Portugal 0.647
United Kingdom 0.632
Denmark 0.626
Sweden 0.604
Belgium 0.6
Estonia 0.563
EU average + United Kingdom 0.555
Malta 0.549
Slovakia 0.543
Latvia 0.518
Luxembourg 0.516
Croatia 0.512
Czech Republic 0.5
Austria 0.489
Spain 0.472
Lithuania 0.466
Slovenia 0.445
Cyprus 0.439
Romania 0.369
Bulgaria 0.363
Poland 0.357
Hungary 0.336

 

As far as diesel is concerned, the average is more like 44.8 cent/l, with Hungary still at the bottom (30.9 cent/l) and the UK sadly in first place (63.2 cent/l), followed by Italy (61.7 cent/l) and France (60.9 cent/l). The Czech Republic is a curious case: there is no excise duty on diesel, only on green.

Country Excise duty on diesel (€/l)
United Kingdom 0.632
Italy 0.617
France 0.609
Belgium 0.6
Ireland 0.555
Netherlands 0.529
Finland 0.51
Portugal 0.503
Malta 0.472
Germany 0.47
Slovenia 0.463
EU average + United Kingdom 0.448
Denmark 0.436
Sweden 0.427
Latvia 0.424
Greece 0.422
Cyprus 0.41
Croatia 0.406
Austria 0.405
Luxembourg 0.404
Slovakia 0.397
Spain 0.379
Estonia 0.372
Lithuania 0.372
Romania 0.338
Bulgaria 0.33
Poland 0.315
Hungary 0.309
Czech Republic /

VAT on fuels in Europe

As far as VAT is concerned, all Member States adopt the same domestic taxation on petrol and diesel (with the exception, once again, of the Czech Republic). The lowest tax is levied in Luxembourg (17%), while the highest is in Hungary (27%). Roughly speaking, VAT in the EU and the UK averages 21.5%: the countries above and below this figure are 11 and 17 respectively. France applies a rate of 20%.

Country VAT on fuel (%)
Hungary 27
Croatia 25
Denmark 25
Sweden 25
Finland 24
Greece 24
Ireland 23
Poland 23
Portugal 23
Italy 22
Slovenia 22
EU average + United Kingdom 21.46
Belgium 21
Czech Republic 21
Latvia 21
Lithuania 21
Netherlands 21
Spain 21
Austria 20
Bulgaria 20
Estonia 20
France 20
Slovakia 20
United Kingdom 20 20
Cyprus 19
Germany 19
Romania 19
Malta 18
Luxembourg 17

Fuel prices in Europe

What are the current fuel prices ? According to figures from the European Commission, petrol costs an average of €1.68 per litre (€/l), taking into account the 27 EU Member States, and 1.73 €/l, taking into account only the 19 countries in the euro zone. The country where petrol is most expensive is the Netherlands (€1.9/l), while the cheapest is Romania (€1.33/l). France is in fifth place (and above the two averages), with €1.79/l.

Countries Petrol price (€/l)
Netherlands 1.909
Denmark 1.845
Greece 1.828
Finland 1.809
France 1.798
Germany 1.781
Italy 1.78
Ireland 1.733
EU average 1.731 (euro zone) - 1.684 (27)
Portugal 1.642
Estonia 1.626
Belgium 1.621
Sweden 1.621
Latvia 1.605
Spain 1.557
Slovakia 1.534
Austria 1.506
Hungary 1.502
Czech Republic 1.501
Croatia 1.49
Poland 1.48
Slovenia 1.471
Luxembourg 1.461
Lithuania 1.456
Cyprus 1.393
Bulgaria 1.358
Malta 1.34
Romania 1.333

And diesel? The averages for political Europe and the euro zone alone are 1.66 and 1.68 €/litre respectively, with Sweden (1.98 €/litre) and Malta (1.2 €/litre) at the top and bottom of the table. France is in fifth place at €1.74/litre.

N.B.: prices updated to 11 December 2023.

Country of origin Diesel price (€/l)
Sweden 1.987
Finland 1.859
Belgium 1.767
Italy 1.753
France 1.747
Netherlands 1.738
Ireland 1.734
Germany 1.706
EU average (euro zone) 1.682
Greece 1.671
Denmark 1.663
EU average (27) 1.658
Austria 1.617
Latvia 1.605
Croatia 1.6
Portugal 1.576
Hungary 1.56
Slovakia 1.539
Estonia 1.532
Cyprus 1.527
Spain 1.526
Slovenia 1.52
Poland 1.516
Czech Republic 1.515
Luxembourg 1.504
Lithuania 1.501
Romania 1.425
Bulgaria 1.369
Malta 1.21