British motorists driving on the continent will face fines for speeding, even though British police can't pursue drivers from there caught doing the same here.
The new law will be introduced in May under a new European Union ruling that gives EU governments automatic access to vehicle ownership records held by other countries. These can then be used to prosecute car owners across borders.
In at least 14 EU countries, including France, the Netherlands and Belgium, the vehicle owner is the one responsible for fines, irrespective of who was actually driving the car at the time.
However, in the UK the fine is the responsibility of the driver, meaning that having access to the database wouldn't mean the details of the person to be fined would necessarily be available.
The Department for Transport has confirmed that it would not use the database to fine EU drivers, even though 23,000 foreign-registered cars caught speeding in the UK each year deprive the Treasury of about £2.3 million.
The reforms could affect hundreds of thousands of motorists caught speeding abroad each year. Approximately 500,000 UK motorists are caught annually in France alone.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The EU cross-border enforcement directive is a contradiction in terms as it is neither cross-border nor enforceable. It is a one-way street."