Despite a 5p-a-litre fuel duty discount introduced in March 2022, the UK has emerged as the country with the highest diesel prices in Europe, according to new data from the RAC. The average price of diesel at UK pumps currently stands at 155p per litre, surpassing prices in Ireland and Belgium, where diesel averages 150p per litre.

The UK government reduced the duty on both petrol and diesel from 57.95p to 52.95p in spring 2022 in an effort to alleviate the financial burden on motorists amidst rapidly escalating fuel prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Despite this measure, the UK maintains the highest diesel duty rate in Europe, alongside Italy. However, even with a comparable duty rate, diesel in Italy remains 7p cheaper than in the UK, with an average price of 148p per litre.

France, with a duty rate nearly equivalent to the UK's at 52p, enjoys an average diesel price of 146p per litre, 9p less than in the UK. In Belgium, where the duty is marginally lower at 51p, diesel prices are 5p cheaper, averaging 150p per litre.

Prices of diesel in Europe (per litre, as of May 20, 2024):

  1. United Kingdom - 155p
  2. Belgium - 150p
  3. Ireland - 150p
  4. Italy - 148p
  5. Denmark - 146p
  6. Finland - 146p
  7. France - 146p
  8. Netherlands - 146p
  9. Germany - 142p
  10. Greece - 140p
  11. Austria - 137p
  12. Latvia - 137p
  13. Cyprus - 134p
  14. Average - 134p
  15. Croatia - 133p

“Having the most expensive diesel in Europe despite the current 5p duty cut is a very dubious honour,” RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams commented. “This is explained by RAC Fuel Watch calculations which show the average retailer margin on diesel – that’s the difference between the delivered wholesale price and the retail price before VAT – is 18p. That’s a shocking 10p more than the long-term average of 8p.”

In stark contrast, the UK’s petrol prices are not as steep, ranking as the 11th most expensive in Europe at an average of 149p per litre. The highest petrol prices are found in Denmark, averaging 175p per litre. It is noteworthy that Denmark imposes a significantly higher duty rate than the UK, at the equivalent of 59p, alongside a 25 per cent VAT.