Under legislation approved by ministers on Thursday, national authorities in the 27-nation bloc will give one another access to vehicle registration data so a Czech driver photographed speeding in France, for example, would not escape a fine.
"Foreign drivers account for 5% of traffic on Europe's roads, but 15% of the speeding offences. Well if you are that speeding driver, I have bad news. It's about to stop," said EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas.
Offences embraced by the law are speeding, drink driving, failing to wear a seatbelt and failing to stop at traffic lights, which statistics show cause 75% of all road accident deaths.
Parking offences are not included in the bill.
The new EU-wide rules still need backing from the European Parliament before becoming law. The Greens have already said the proposals are too weak and urged MEPs to strengthen them when the bill goes to Parliament.
"Regrettably, it has been effectively left up to national rules to determine ultimate liability for offences" committed by foreign drivers, said Green MEP Michael Cramer (Germany). "In Germany, for instance, the vehicle owner can still refuse to provide information about the responsible driver and thus effectively dodge punishment."
Cramer also found it "regrettable that only fines of more than €70 would be enforceable cross-border".
British and Danish opt-out
Parliaments in Britain, Ireland and Denmark may still decide not to adopt the law as those countries have opt-outs from the EU's police cooperation.
Under the legislation, drivers would be fined according to laws of the country where they commit an offence.
Some EU countries already cooperate. Belgian drivers photographed speeding in France are likely to receive tickets at home. But Poles can feel safe once they have crossed their border.
(EurActiv with Reuters.)