Roadworthiness Testing – Where are we now?

After a fairly quiet Summer, the politicians – at least in Europe – are returning to their desks and getting down to work so we thought now would be the ideal time to take stock of the situation with regard to Roadworthiness Testing.

EU LogoBack in June we were faced with the situation where the influential TRAN (Transport and Tourism) committee in the EU Parliament voted to exclude motorcycles from the testing proposals pending a study which, among other things, aimed to compare the motorcycle safety records of countries with testing versus those without. They did so because, like us, they did not believe the evidence put forward by the EU Commission to justify the expense of including motorcycles in the proposals.

The outcome of that vote was considered a reasonable compromise by almost everyone involved, but it so upset some MEP’s (notably the Belgian Green Party MEP Isabelle Durant), that they tabled a further amendment at the 11th hour to force motorcycles back into the proposals at the Plenary (final vote) stage.

Confused? It’s actually fairly simple!

The committees (such as TRAN and IMCO) are something akin to expert groups. They consist of small numbers of MEP’s who study the proposals in great detail and advise their wider EU Parliament colleagues on the issue.

The Plenary vote is the one in which all the 700+ MEP’s participate. Although MEP’s are supposedly free to vote whichever way they choose, it’s common for them to vote along the lines of their respective party or group.

Because both the  TRAN (Transport and Tourism) and IMCO (Internal Market) committees came out against the inclusion of motorcycles, it was widely expected that the Plenary vote would approve this view, although it was known that the vote would be tight. MEP’s in the EU Parliament are effectively split on the need for extended roadworthiness testing.

So now what?

At the most basic level, there are three major bodies which make up the EU, namely:

  • The EU Commission consists (until 2014) of 27 members appointed by…
  • The EU Council (or Council of Ministers), which represents national Governments, but the commissioners must be approved by…
  • The EU Parliament which represents of us, the citizens, and to which we directly elect our MEP’s.

The Commission is the body which proposes legislation – in this case Roadworthiness testing – which it then submits to the EU Council and the EU Parliament, to be approved or rejected.

The EU Commission admitted it ignored it’s own evidence and took as gospel figures supplied by the testing industry, and of course the testing industry stands to gain to the tune of hundreds of millions of Euro if the proposals are adopted.

The EU Council examined the proposals, questioned the evidence supplied by the Commission, and came out against the Commission.

The EU Parliament, as we have seen, is effectively split down the middle on the need for extended roadworthiness testing.

Because the vote was tight, part of the compromise agreement was to enter into trialogue – In other words, a three-way discussion in which representatives of the EU’s three main institutions try to reach agreement on a way forward. In this case, the proposals were referred back to the TRAN committee in the first instance which was tasked with trying to reach an agreement with the Council (which, remember, deleted motorcycles from the proposals).

That, essentially, is where the process is now. It remains to be seen whether agreement can be reached on a way forward.

We in MAG Ireland continue to monitor the process via FEMA (The Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations) of which MAG Ireland is a founder member. We can only do this with the support of our members. If you’re not a member, why not join usTogether, we’re stronger.