Belgian authorities have initiated an investigation into the substantial fines allegedly levied unlawfully on drivers in London’s ultra-low emissions zone (Ulez). The investigation was triggered by claims that thousands of drivers were fined for Ulez regulation breaches. This development has caused concern, as UK authorities, following Brexit, should not have access to EU citizens’ personal data for non-criminal purposes. Despite these regulations, numerous drivers from different EU countries have faced penalties for failing to register their Ulez-compliant vehicles with Transport for London (TfL) before driving in the city.
Adding to this, some drivers have been incorrectly fined under the separate low emissions zone (Lez), which is intended for heavy goods vehicles entering Greater London. One notable case involved a driver who was fined nearly £11,000 following a three-day trip in a hire car. Allegations have also been made against a Belgian court bailiff acting for TfL’s collections agent Euro Parking Collection, accusing him of abuse of legal powers to access over 20,000 registered keeper details.
Several Belgian MPs are now urging the government to recover the money paid by the fined motorists. Michael Freilich, the MP who uncovered the alleged data abuse, has accused Euro Parking of bypassing GDPR rules. He alleges that they use EU-based agents to collect driver data without disclosing that it will be shared with a UK company. Freilich is calling for an immediate halt to these operations and the return of all improperly obtained funds.
Simultaneously, the Dutch vehicle licensing agency, RDW, has indicated that it is looking into complaints from Dutch motorists who received substantial fines after visiting London. The agency stated that there is no data-sharing agreement between the UK and the Netherlands for Ulez enforcement. In response to the controversy, TfL has stated that the decision to release keeper details rests with each vehicle licensing authority, as long as they deem the reason for the request to be satisfactory. Both TfL and Euro Parking have stated that no Belgian driver data has been shared since the ruling by the Belgian National Chamber of Judicial Officers took effect.