How do petrol prices in the UK compare to EU countries?

·4-min read
Unrecognizable male putting fuel dispenser in tank while refueling vehicle on self service gas station. High quality photo
Petrol prices are at an all-time high in the UK. (Getty Images)

The UK and Europe remain in the grip of a cost of living crisis.

Soaring gas and oil prices, exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, have put pressure on governments to intervene.

On Thursday, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £15bn package aimed at easing the squeeze on British households.

This includes a one-off £400 discount off energy bills for every household, with Sunak calling on the wealthy to donate their £400 to charity, after saying he would give his to a "local cause".

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 26: Chancellor Rishi Sunak leaves number 11, Downing Street on May 26, 2022 in London, England. An announcement is expected to be made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak later, knocking hundreds of pounds off domestic energy bills this winter, largely funded by a windfall tax on oil and gas firms that could raise £7bn. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £15bn package this week to help alleviate the cost of living crisis. (Getty Images)
Fuel prices displayed at a petrol station on Vauxhall Bridge Rd in London. Picture date: Friday May 20, 2022.
The fuel prices at a forecourt in Vauxhall Bridge Road in London last week. (PA)

Read more: Cost of living crisis - the food items soaring in price

The move came a day after it emerged that UK petrol prices had reached a record high, exceeding the 170p per litre mark for the first time.

The average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts on Tuesday was 170.4p, according to data firm Experian Catalist. Diesel also reached a record high of 181.4p per litre.

Petrol has become about 41p per litre more expensive over the past year, adding about £23 to the cost of filling a typical 55-litre family car.

But petrol prices are surging all over Europe.

Which European countries have the most expensive petrol?

The UK is one of the most expensive countries in Europe for buying petrol.

According to the latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the European Commission's Oil Bulletin, dated to April 2022, only six of the 27 countries in the EU have a higher average price per litre of petrol than the UK.

At that time, the UK and an average cost per litre of petrol of 161.7p, almost 20p a litre cheaper than in Finland, where the most expensive petrol in the EU cost 179.5p a litre.

(Yahoo News)
The UK's petrol prices are higher than most of the countries in the European Union. (Yahoo News)

The Netherlands was the second most expensive, at 172.8p per litre, followed by Greece (169.5p), Germany (167.9p), Denmark (167.5p) and Sweden (165p).

The cheapest petrol in the EU was found in Hungary, at 105.1p a litre. It was the only EU country where the price was less than 110p per litre.

Watch: Dominic Raab turns question of fuel prices back on interviewer

In the UK, about half of the price per litre is made up of tax - 79.9p - equating to 47.8% of the total cost.

Tax makes up about half the price consumers pay at the pump in the UK (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/BEIS)
Tax makes up about half the price consumers pay at the pump in the UK (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/BEIS)

In Finland, the tax makes up 52.7% of the cost, while in France it is 55%. In Poland, where the fuel is the third cheapest in the EU, the tax on petrol is just 31.9% of the total cost.

Why is petrol going up in price?

According to BEIS, the average price of petrol in the UK went from 147p per litre on 22 February to 161.7p per litre on 22 April.

Prices at the pump have been rising this year because the wholesale price for crude oil, use to make petrol and diesel, has increased.

Demand for energy dropped dramatically at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but since life has started to return to normal, the demand has surged, leaving suppliers struggling to meet it, and prices have gone up.

(Yahoo News)
UK and EU petrol prices have skyrocketed this year. (Yahoo News)

Russia's invasion of Ukraine made matters worse.

Russia is one of the biggest oil and gas producers in the world, and the subsequent sanctions and import bans on its products have driven up oil prices, increases that are passed on to the pumps.

Watch: Rishi Sunak sets out £15bn package to alleviate cost of living crisis