Council of State Auditor says that Brussels Low Emissions’ Zone is “discriminatory”

The Auditor of the Council of State has described the Low Emissions Zone that has been in force in the Brussels-Capital Region since 1 January 2018 as “discriminatory”. The Auditor did so in a report on the Low Emission Zone a summary of which appears in Saturday’s edition of the Francophone daily ‘La Libre Belgique’.  

The Auditor bases his judgement on the fact that the Low Emissions Zone rules only apply to cars, vans, minibuses and busses, but not to heavy goods vehicles. This contravenes articles 10 and 11 of the Belgian Constitution that makes all citizens equal before the law and excludes discrimination of any kind.

The Brussels Capital Region argues that ordinary motorists and professional lorry drivers are two different categories of motorist and that it is perfectly normal that they should be treated differently. This allows for the two groups to be treated differently without there being any question of discrimination. In addition to this HGV drivers pay a road charge levy for every kilometre they travel within the region. This means that everyone pays, be it through the Low Emissions Zone levy or through the road charging levy, the regional authorities argue.

However, the Council of State Auditor doesn’t share this view.  Polluting cars, vans and busses aren’t welcome in the Low Emissions Zone, while the Low Emissions Zone rules don’t apply to HGVs with a maximum weight in excess of 3.5 tonnes.

"The difference in treatment between vehicles is inefficiently justified with regard to the desired aim”, the Auditor writes.

The Auditor’s report is not an official ruling by the Council of State. However, the Council of State does usually follow the Auditor’s advice.