Briefing on EU Type Approval Debate
BRIEFING ON EU TYPE APPROVAL DEBATE October 2011 (updated April 2012)
By Chris Hodder, BMF Government Relations Executive
The European Commission has proposed a regulation on the Type Approval of motorcycles.
WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION?
The European Commission is the civil service of the European Union. They have the power to draft and propose new legislation. The two other parts are the European Parliament where elected MEPs do their work and the Council of the European Union where the governments of the member countries do their work.
WHAT IS A REGULATION, WHAT IS A DIRECTIVE?
There are two types of legislation in the European Union, Regulations and Directives. Directives are pieces of legislation that order a member country to enact a certain piece of legislation into national law, such as the Disability Discrimination Act in the UK. A Regulation is a law that works best without any variation between member states (such as issues relating to a common market as in this case) and is therefore in effect without being debated and voted on in national parliaments.
In both cases, legislation is usually proposed by the European Commission and then debated by the European Parliament (usually in a committee and then with a vote by all MEPs) and the Council where national governments get to have their say.
The regulation in question is particularly controversial because it proposes to use delegated acts. These are new legal instruments whereby the European Commission can produce related legislation (much like a statutory instrument in the UK) that has less scrutiny by the Parliament and the Council to speed up the process.
WHAT IS TYPE APPROVAL?
EU Type Approval is a means of ensuring conformity of a product to a given standard. It is not motorcycle specific and can apply to any product from cars to mobile 'phones that meet specified technical and safety requirements.
In the case of motorcycles, Type Approval is the process whereby motorcycles made in large volumes are approved for use on the road. This process avoids the need for every single motorcycle to be inspected to see if it is safe for use before issuing a registration document. Because a manufacturer has declared that the motorcycle conforms to certain requirements and has produced a document to corroborate it, then the motorcycle is said to be Type Approved.
WHY DO WE NEED THIS REGULATION?
The regulation now in question proposes to bring all the legislation on this subject into one piece of text and also add or change some requirements at the same time. It will also allow agreements at UN level (Global Technical Regulations, for example) to have effect in EU legislation. This should mean that manufacturers need to produce fewer variations of the same motorcycles for different countries.
WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?
As of October 2011, the European Commission proposed a text to the European Parliament. The European Parliament debated it in the Internal Market Committee (IMCO) and proposed some changes. These changes were adopted in December 2011.
The changes proposed to extend compulsory ABS to small motorcycles and to implement a testing regime following alterations by the owner to the vehicle’s powertrain. As the proposed changes have such large implications, discussions with the council have opened early to reach a better proposal. However, as motorcycle type approval legislation is understandably low priority for national governments, this process could take some time.
After this, the recommended text goes to the full European Parliament for debate and a vote later this year or early next year. When both the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union vote in favour of the regulation, it will become law.
WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT?
The BMF first lobbied on this issue several years ago when the issue was first discussed and BMF members also lent their support by sending letters and emails to MEPs.
Also, FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations) and the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) (organisations in which the BMF are strongly represented) have attended meetings and discussions in the European Institutions to get the best deal for motorcyclists. Some of our suggestions, such as CO2 measurement, even made it into the Commission’s proposals.
Further to that, discussions have been ongoing with the UK government to make sure that the government position in the Council is also good for motorcyclists. The government recently opened a short consultation on the proposals which seemed to similar to our position except on a few key points.
We also supported a demonstration in Brussels against the unpopular requirements on anti-tampering, but to summarise the BMF's position on Type Approval, we can see benefits where high quality safety standards for original equipment, retailed accessories and components are concerned and where barriers to trade are removed - but we oppose regulations when restrictions are placed on an individual's freedom to modify and improve vehicles.
In April 2012, we travelled to Brussels to meet with some MEPs in order to clarify the position after some controversy in the press (and through communications sent to MEPs) to make it clear what we are and are not supporting. This trip was successful and we hope will lead to an improved debate when the legislation comes before the parliament.
THE REALITY CHECK
· Anti-Tampering – The European Commission wants powers (via a delegated act) to introduce rules to make changes more difficult to the engine and drive train of motorcycles (“be regarded as difficult to tamper”)
IMCO voted to make governments test bikes after changes made by users
· The original proposals will not make it illegal to change components on a motorcycle (unless IMCO change is adopted)
· There will not be spot checks of motorcycles on the road
· It will only apply to new motorcycles
· These rules currently exist on 50cc mopeds (which are routinely tampered with)
British Government says:
· No – not necessary on larger bikes and expensive; also has a problem with “delegated act” aspect
· No, nay, never
· Commission wants powers (via a delegated act) to specify minimum safety equipment for motorcycles including mandatory ABS on larger bikes or CBS on smaller bikes (from 2017) as well as Automatic Headlights On (AHO) on all bikes
· Original text excludes enduro and trail bikes
· Off switch probably up to manufacturer discretion
· AHO already on nearly all bikes sold in EU
IMCO voted to extend ABS to all motorcycles (excluding mopeds)
· ABS likely to have safety benefit (although no examination of extension to 125s as proposed after government exam of original proposal); still against delegated powers.
· ABS should be consumer choice, at this stage far too expensive for small motorcycles, still opposed to mandatory AHO
· On Board Diagnostics (OBD) will be compulsory in two stages
· Not an onboard tracking device – only shows component failure or component out of its design parameters
· Will not stop bike working
· Too expensive to implement OBD II (more advanced system), but OBD I is supported.
· May make repairs cheaper and quicker so could have net benefit, error codes must be available to consumers and should not disable bikes
· Bring pollutant limits for bikes in line with cars in three stages over the next decade. Bikes must remain compliant for 50,000km (less for smaller bikes)
· Bikes release a much higher amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and some other nasties than cars
· Catalytic converters can be fitted to motorcycles and routinely are
· Bikes over 7 years old will not be banned from entering town centres
· Too expensive to implement later stages compared to benefits, but support initial reduction
· Strongly support as political support for bikes depends on bikes being at least as clean as cars
· Manufacturers to publish emissions figures for CO2 and therefore fuel consumption
· Strongly support as part of a long campaign to get fuel consumption information for motorcycles
· Repair and maintenance information must be made available outside dealer network
· Support, although small producers should be exempt on cost grounds
· Strongly support as it will create better competition amongst garages and will allow users to service more complicated bikes at home
· Member states can approve a motorcycle individually for use across the EU (similar to current MSVA (Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval), but for whole of EU), however bike must conform closer to rules of directive
· Current IVA system is adequate so no change needed
· Can see some benefit to allowing EU wide individual approval, but rules must be looser
Commission will produce a list of components that must also be type approved for safety and environmental reasons.
Aftermarket components will not be banned
Some components will have to meet the same standards as original components
We see that aftermarket manufacturers can get away with less stringent control than bike manufacturers and there may be an imbalance of costs, but we’re not convinced the problem is big enough for this solution
There is nothing in the proposed regulation on the wearing of compulsory high visibility clothing; town centre bans for old motorcycles; power limits or European MOTs. Some of these things have been briefly discussed and quickly dismissed or are problems in other EU countries, but are not remotely close to being law in the UK.