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UK drivers pay most expensive prices in Europe for diesel

UK drivers pay most expensive prices in Europe for diesel
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

Drivers in the UK are paying the most out of any nation in Europe to fill up their vehicle with diesel, a motoring service reveals.

The average price of diesel at pumps in the UK stands at 155p per litre (ppl) – 10p more expensive than in France.

This is despite the UK having its fuel duty cut by 5p to 52.95p in 2022, just a penny more than its neighbouring nation across the Channel.

Alongside Italy, it has the highest rate of duty on diesel in Europe, but drivers in Italy still pay 7ppl less on average to fill up at the forecourt.

Further, motorists are paying 5p more per litre for diesel than the second-most expensive nations Ireland and Belgium – which both charge an average of 150ppl, according to RAC’s research.

When it comes to filling up a petrol-fuelled vehicle, the picture is slightly prettier for UK motorists.

Denmark charges the most for petrol

On average, unleaded petrol costs 149ppl, which is the 11th most expensive in the continent and is dwarfed by the 175ppl charged in Denmark. Cyprus is the cheapest country in Europe, charging drivers 133ppl for the privilege of filling up their tank.

Despite a three-month slowdown of petrol prices rising towards the end of 2023, the cost to fill up your motor has shot up since then.

Retailers that pocket too much thanks to “unfair” profit margins have been blamed by the RAC for the rising costs.

The difference for what retailers buy diesel for and what drivers are charged was 18ppl, which is more than double the long-term average, analysis from RAC’s Fuel Watch found.

‘The UK has a very dubious honour’

Simon Williams, RAC fuel spokesperson, described having the most expensive diesel in Europe despite the current 5p duty cut as a “very dubious honour”.

Williams said: “Despite the RAC bringing the issue to the attention of energy secretary Claire Coutinho in a letter just over a week ago, the price of diesel at the pump has barely fallen, even though the wholesale prices of petrol and diesel are identical at just 111p a litre.

“The average price of a litre of diesel should really be down to around the 145p level if retailers were charging fairer prices. The margin on petrol is also, in our view, unreasonably high at 13p.”

Williams added: “We can see no good reason why retailers in Great Britain aren’t cutting their prices at the pumps. It’s important to note that, in Northern Ireland, where there is greater competition for fuels in the absence of supermarket dominance, the average price of diesel is just 144.9p – 10p less than the UK average, and petrol is 6p cheaper at 142.4p.

“There is cause for hope for fairer fuel prices in the future as the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act became law on Friday, giving new powers to the Competition and Markets Authority [CMA] to closely monitor road fuel prices and report any sign of malpractice to the Government.”

How much Europe pays for fuel:

a table of how much europe pays for fuel

Source: RAC