Interview with Malcolm Harbour MEP on the Type Approval Regulation

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FEMA has conducted an interview with Malcolm Harbour (a UK MEP) and Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) responsible for the type approval proposals which have caused so much unrest of late, the main issues being Anti-Tampering, Compulsory ABS, and a PTI (NCT style) test for bikes.

It’s an interesting insight into the way in which these EU committees work, and the thinking of the man largely responsible for steering the type approval regs through the process.

The following text is taken from the FEMA web site at,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=259&cntnt01returnid=15

Interview with Malcolm Harbour MEP on the Type Approval Regulation
The Regulation on the type approval and market surveillance of two- or three wheelers is approaching the Committee vote in the European Parliament. The legislation will have significant influence on the way motorcycles for the European market will have to be built for the next 20 years. FEMA discusses the latest developments with Malcolm Harbour, Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), which is in leading on this work in the Eurpean Parliament. The British MEP also acts as shadow Rapporteur for his group, the European Conservatives and Reformists.

FEMA: Mr. Harbour, for many riders, especially in the UK, there are fears that the type approval Regulation will bring drastic restrictions of rider’s freedom. One British MEP has even launched a petition against the Regulation. What are your views on the sustained criticism geared at this draft Regulation for motorcycles, including a major drive slow demonstration in the UK and a planned demonstration here in Brussels on the day you plan to vote on the Committee Report?

Harbour: There is significant hysteria surrounding the review of this Regulation and clearly I don’t support the petition. This is the result of political opportunism playing up rider concerns with the EU lawmaking process. The EU already regulates the type approval of motorbikes and a periodical review of the rules such as this is hardly a surprise.

The exercise underway is principally about updating the type approval process for powered two wheelers to reflect the introduction of new technologies. The modified legislation will also ensure that motorbikes are safer for the public, cleaner and quieter while supporting EU industry competitiveness. The modernised Regulation aims to achieve this.

Specifically, a number of criticisms on the Regulation are simply not relevant to our work, for example high visibility jackets for riders, the banning of older motorcycles from urban areas, or the legitimacy of EU funded research on throttle and speed control. These are all issues which are entirely outside the subject matter of this particular legislative proposal.

FEMA: But some MEPs have tabled Amendments on these subjects, have they not?

Harbour: Indeed, unfortunately, a small number of amendments tabled relate to rider training, side visibility reflectors, roadside random spot-checks, technical examinations of motorbikes and liabilities in accident situations, as well the harmonisation of driver licence schemes. These have added to the general confusion. Some of these issues are totally irrelevant and relate to national proposals in some EU Member States, while others refer to broader European Commission thinking relating to their White Paper on Transport.

Of the problematic Amendments tabled to the Committee report, a number have already been withdrawn, and for those which have not, they do not have majority support and I am trying to persuade colleagues to withdraw them in the run up to the vote. If they happen to survive the vote, which I very much doubt, the Council of Ministers will certainly reject them anyway.

FEMA: Moving on to our key concerns with the Commission’s proposal, from the very beginning FEMA expressed disagreement on the Commission’s proposal to introduce so called anti-tampering measures [Article 18]1 – not only for light motorcycles, but also for motorcycles above 125cc. Some MEPs have already indicated their support to attenuate or even delete the provision. What are your views on this subject and how do you calculate the position in Parliament?

Harbour: Clearly, my Committee does not support putting an end to aftermarket sales of spare parts for repairs and improvements. Anti-tampering measures are intended to stop alterations to the vehicle’s power for safety purposes or to meet environmental performance requirements. These are currently limited to mopeds and motorcycles under 125cc producing less than 11kW.

The Commission has now proposed to extend cover to all vehicles within the scope of the Regulation and we are well aware that there is concern over how this might restrict the ability of after-market parts manufacturers to sell their products because of potential difficulties they may have in securing type approval, particularly for parts produced in small volumes. This uncertainty is compounded by the fact that the concrete measures to prevent modifications of the powertrain are still unknown because the Commission suggests developing them via delegated acts. In any case, the European Parliament retains a right of scrutiny over any such future measures, so it is absolutely not the case that the Commission would be able to design these technical specifications behind closed doors,

So let’s be quite clear about this: drive train improvements or part replacements using aftermarket parts will continue to be allowed. In fact, I can tell you that amongst the MEPs most closely involved on the file, we are already agreed on deleting the bulk of Article 18 on anti-tampering.

Finally, relating to this, there are amendments calling for any modifications to the motorcycle to be checked by a competent authority, setting up national agencies to inspect emissions, but I really think these ideas will not meet with majority support, neither in the European Parliament, and definitely not in the Council of Ministers.

FEMA: Our information suggests that ABS will become mandatory for higher powered motorcycles. FEMA opposes mandatory measures in general, including in the case of ABS. Lately it has even been proposed to introduce ABS even on light motorcycles between 51cc and 125cc. Can you tell us more about these developments?

Harbour: Negotiations are still ongoing on this point but I am making headway. The overall cost benefit of ABS is stacked in favour of mandatory ABS for higher powered motorcycles. However, riders have been arguing against this for certain driving conditions such as on loose gravel. This concern is almost exclusively relevant for dual-use bikes (off and on-road) and Enduro and Trial types will have a separate category (L3e) under the revised rules without mandatory ABS, so in truth, it’s not such a big issue. I have asked Mr Van de Camp to consider proposing an off-switch for ABS for those PTW categories where ABS will become mandatory. We’ll see how this proposal goes.

Indeed, there is political pressure in IMCO to introduce ABS on lesser powered PTWs, but so far, I think I have made a good case with my colleagues against introducing ABS for mopeds, while supporting CBS on light motorcycles between 51cc and 125cc as there is a lack of consistent evidence that ABS would improve safety for these types of motorcycles.

FEMA: The Commission suggests the introduction of on-board diagnostics (OBD). OBD is supposed to indicate malfunctions of the vehicle and could therefore help riders and/or repairers to quickly detect what has to be fixed. You are supporting the introduction of a basic version (OBD Stage I) but you are opposed to the introduction of a further step (OBD Stage II) at a later point in time.

Harbour: Yes, that’s right. OBD should not to affect the motorcycle’s behaviour, but provide riders with information on malfunctions in the form of a warning light. I am supporting OBD Stage (I) requirements but proposing to delete OBD Stage (II) from the draft Regulation because I am convinced that these would entail significantly higher costs for manufacturers which would be reflected on retail prices, without demonstrating a good return on investment in terms of added benefits.

FEMA: Motorcycles are lagging behind cars when it comes to emission abatement. FEMA therefore supports the introduction of stricter emission limits, but only under the condition that manufacturers guarantee the durability of the vehicle’s emissions. FEMA supports a durability requirement for a mileage of 50.000 kilometers. What are your views on the topic? Why are you criticizing the Commission’s proposal for durability testing and what is your alternative?

Harbour: This is a real technology dilemma for motorbikes. There are currently no European durability requirements for motorbikes, so we are starting with basically nothing here, although tests are required for some other markets (such as the US EPA test). The Commission does not specify any particular test in its proposal which doesn’t help the situation. Referring you to the UK impact assessment (the only EU Member State to have actually done one by the way), I disagree that a durability requirement for a mileage of 50.000 kilometers is a good thing which ever way you look at it. If this is introduced, the test time, estimated at one year, will be a significant problem.

From my experience as an automotive engineer, I can confirm to you that durability testing is potentially extremely time consuming and burdensome. This is the very reason why, for cars, use of standard, more conservative deterioration factors is permitted as an alternative to testing. This is also why US motorcycle emissions legislation allows for extrapolation on durability testing. The introduction of durability requirements in EU motorcycle emissions legislation should include similar flexibility to avoid disproportionate burdens on manufacturers.

I think the Commission should have considered including additional equivalent emission durability test options by means of accelerated ageing of vehicles and components in the delegated and implementing acts.

FEMA: In some countries in Europe motorcycles have to be presented to a periodical technical inspection. Some of the inspection schemes also include emission checks. The emission requirements today are not very high and the methods applied for emission testing are rather rough therefore motorcycles hardly fail these tests. But stricter emission limits will require more accurate testing procedures. FEMA simply wants to prevent riders in these countries from failing emission checks caused by degradation and particularly from having to pay the bill for it.

Harbour: Yes, I understand and agree with your objective but I’m really not sure the technology is there yet. This also partly explains why I proposed to delete the EURO 5(6) emissions stage. EURO5(6) requirements come far too early for manufacturers. The proposal is roughly equivalent to lowering effective emissions in one single stage to all previous EURO stages put together. Given the particular strains on this sector, we at least need a much longer lead in time, or we run the risk of placing serious difficulties on our manufacturers, and an EU market which is too difficult to access for manufacturers outside the EU. I think these proposals would ultimately hamper consumer choice, and of equal importance, efforts to position PTWs as playing a key role in reducing both congestion in urban areas and overall road transport emissions.

FEMA: Mr. Harbour, thank you very much for this interview.