Pump price fury as UK tops EU fuel tax table

fuel pump display
14 Mar, 2014 7:00am Joe Finnerty

Figures show that tax makes up 59 per cent of diesel and 61 per cent of petrol prices in the UK

Fuel pump prices in the UK contain the highest proportion of tax in the EU, with nearly two-thirds heading back to the Government, according to new RAC Foundation figures.

Britain tops the diesel list with 59 per cent of the price going to the Chancellor in fuel duty and VAT. Tax accounts for 61 per cent of UK petrol prices, too – second only behind Sweden.

• Petrol price gap between rural and urban areas closes

Bulgaria has the lowest tax in the EU for petrol (45 per cent), while Luxembourg’s diesel tax rate is the lowest, at 41 per cent. 

The figures show that the UK has one of the highest average pump prices in the EU, too, with diesel currently costing 137p a litre and petrol 130p a litre. And the high ranking comes at a time when petrol and diesel prices in the UK are at their lowest since February 2011 and July 2012 respectively.

Highest diesel tax percentages (EU)  

Country Price per litre Tax  
1. UK 137p 59%
2. Sweden 124p 56%
3. Italy 139p 55%
4. Ireland 121p 52%
5. France 108p 50%

Highest petrol tax percentages (EU)

Country Price per litre Tax  
1. Sweden 124p 62%
2. UK 130p 61%
3. Netherlands 145p 61%
4. Greece 136p 60%
5. Italy 145p 59%

Ignore tax and UK fuel would be EU's cheapest

The RAC Foundation explained that if tax was discounted from UK prices, we’d have the fifth cheapest diesel and second cheapest petrol in the EU.

RAC Foundation director Prof Stephen Glaister said: “The oil companies and retailers are often blamed for soaring pump prices, but these figures reveal that’s not the whole picture.”

He’s calling on Chancellor George Osborne to announce a fuel duty cut rather than just another freeze in his Budget speech on 19 March. Prof Glaister said that rising prices mean 800,000 of the poorest car-owning households in the UK are spending a third of their disposable income on owning and running a car.

“Over the past three years, fuel duty has been consistently frozen, yet this has done little to change the fact the UK tops the EU tables,” Prof Glaister added.