Doomed or Marooned?

On Tuesday 30th August 2011 the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee met for a second debate on the proposed regulation and the hundreds of amendments, 304 at the last count, regarding the approval and market surveillance of mopeds, motorcycles, trikes and quads.

What did we learn from this session in the European Parliament?

We learnt that the Rapporteur in charge of the IMCO committee report, Dutch MEP, Wim van de Camp had an recent accident on his motorcycle. He said “It’s a bit embarrassing your (referring to Malcolm Harbour, UK MEP and Chairman of IMCO) introduction to me because – If my motorcycle had ABS braking I wouldn’t have found myself on the ground last week and I would be in finer fettle. Let’s say I have some problems with my legs but I didn’t hit my head”.

Van de Camp also appeared to distance himself from being called a motorcycle enthusiast or an avid motorcyclist or a “dyed in the wool motorcyclist” saying that, “first and foremost I am an MEP and that is my perspective.”

So he’s no longer the motorcyclist’s friend? He is now getting down to his job rather than use his hobby of motorcycling as the basis for his “expertise” as the rapporteur for the IMCO to challenge the Commission’s proposals for the EU Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of two- or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles.

In terms of using his position as a parliamentarian to ensure that the Commission does not “overstep its mark” he has done a superb job in his presentation of the IMCO’s draft report on the subject.

Bear in mind that the proposed regulations that he overwhelming supports with a few minor amendments will increase the cost of motorcycles in Europe and will drive motorcyclists towards buying second hand vehicles and keeping them for a longer period of time, thus defeating the purpose of the legislation they (Commission and Mr van de Camp) want to introduce.

Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Meeting

Wim van de Camp

The meeting only took about half an hour and there was a general discussion about the amendments proposed by the various shadow rapporteurs.

Mr van de Camp mentioned the political factions within the committee and according to him the left of centre rapporteurs e.g. Ms Westfahl, German MEP and Ms Ruhle, German MEP had a minority position, equally the Chairman Malcolm Harbour, also shadow rapporteur held a right of centre (minority) position, while according to Mr van de Camp, his position represented the majority, which was more or less aligned with the EU Commission.

He stated that this (political positioning) had created more difficulties to arrive at a compromise and said “There are a number of positions on ABS (Antilock Braking Systems) and CBS (Combined Braking Systems) and the left wants them to be more stringent, Mr Harbour’s positions are less stringent and I agree with the Commission.

Ms Steihler, Scottish Labour MEP (substituting Ms Westfahl) stated that the issue to emphasise is to make mandatory ABS for all vehicles but exclude mopeds.

Toine Manders, Dutch MEP, stated that ABS and emissions are very technical issues and need to be left to experts.  Safety should be the top priority – but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

He continued, “we should prioritise safety and in terms of position, I am in the van de Camp camp.  I support van de Camp’s position on ABS.  The whole nature of scooters is entirely different due to rider position and gravity.  The cut off in terms of power and speed is important.  The CBS could improve the scooters in terms of braking improvement.  There may be a case for improving emergency braking.


Ms Ruhle considered e-bikes and she stated that “we need to open up the market for these bikes.  There would have to be a clear speed limit to be capped.  I would like to see a transitional solution.  We could bring down emissions levels and we should tap into those technical opportunities to create markets for this potential to be used.  When it comes to emissions and e-bikes we would like to see more work done”.

In terms of emissions, Mr Harbour commented “I think we need to improve those and in-service testing is important”.

Mr Harbour continued, “I had a briefing of UK experts – with regards to OBD and with small PTWs the cost benefit has not been analysed at all.  That was not included in the Commission’s proposal.  With regards to evaporative emissions these are not a significant hazard and the cost in comparison to the cost of the vehicle has not been proved.  Things have to be done in a proportionate way”.

Off Road ATVs

With regards to off road ATVs, Mr Harbour pointed out that “these do have different functions and requirements which are different and have different speeds than on road quads.  They have different technical characteristics, so we need to consider these”.

Previously the committee had discussed agricultural and forestry vehicles and considered ATVs which cross over with agricultural vehicles – they are a sub category and have distinctive requirements for off road.  These should not be disadvantaged e.g. differentials.

These should not be prescriptive for off road compared to on road quads (leisure products).

However, the Commission wants all ATVs covered under L category but sub-divided.

European Commission

Mr Mattino from the Commission replied to Mr van de Camp and commented

“We have read the draft report.  There are a number of amendments going in different directions.

  • Environmental requirements – we have noted that there are different proposals to reduce or prolong the timing but also the steps.  Our three step approach is the right compromise.  Our studies confirm that the proportion of emissions is increasing dramatically.
  • OBD – this has not been addressed in the study – the UK government study has some shortcomings.  We want combining very basic requirements with a long time frame – starting in 2017 for mopeds – while power motorcycles from 2020.  We only ask to have them with very simple diagnostics.
  • Durability and evaporative emissions cost element needs to be looked at in real world conditions. We are willing to adjust limits of durability tests, we feel the US approach is not appropriate.  We have a very high number of small mopeds.
  • On the key safety measures – I see that you provide support for ABS and CBS and we have been very careful to balance cost and safety.
  • Anti-tampering measures – I support the rapporteur and we should be very careful to carry out a cost benefit analysis and we are working to find a solution for anti-tampering measures.
  • Electric bikes – there are a number of attempts to set parameters – it is important to keep the power limits and speeds as key parameters.  Not to use the link between power and speed.  Power limits and vehicle speed should be the parameters.
  • With regards to ATVs, we are open to improvement, the one you (MH) has sketched seems very reasonable”.

Conclusions Of Meeting

Mr van de Camp concluded that he would need time to consider the various (political) positions to arrive at a compromise.  However he pointed out the responsibility of the committee is to focus on technical issues.

He indicated that with regards to emissions, the Greens want to go more quickly, while he wants to go more slowly.  He said that they are are now trying to come to an agreement and have the commission’s text to consider. He pointed out that there were huge gaps between the various positions of the shadow rapporteurs.

So where does that leave us?

Well, apart from the fact that it has become apparent that the various political factions are posturing and politicking, not much has happened since we wrote our previous article which considered the IMCO committee’s 298 amendments – except that there are now six more amendments.

The Chairman of the IMCO committee wound up the meeting with the comment   “We have work to do”..

Our Conclusions

So what did we learn?

We learnt that the next meeting of the shadow rapporteurs and the rapporteur to discuss the report will be held in Strasbourg between the 12th and 15th September and the IMCO vote will be on October 6th.

What we have is a European Commission proposal going through a process, which has been put into the hands of elected MEPs representing the citizens of Europe.

These MEPs have proposed amendments that are in some cases worse for motorcyclists and some are supportive of motorcycling, but in the end these proposals and counter amendments will all end in a compromise that will make “peace in our time” look like a discussion about who should buy dinner.

All this depends ultimately on who has the biggest “political” support and not necessarily what will be beneficial for the future of motorcycling.

Amendment from Finnish MEP Eija-Riitta Korho

For example the amendment from Finnish MEP Eija-Riitta Korhole put forward amendments to include “Unique amateur built vehicles”. She has stated the justification for her amendments which is that:

“A small number of European citizens enjoy the hobby and culture of building their own two or three wheel vehicles (unique amateur built vehicle). Unique amateur build vehicles perform excellently in accident statistics and not represent a danger to the environment due to negligibly low numbers registered annually as well as low annual mileage. Therefore, unique amateur built vehicles should be exempted explicitly from expensive testing procedures and standards.”

Amendment from German MEP Ms Westfahl

Or on the other hand we have

Ms Westfahl who offers an amendment (N. 128) to Article 18 with a belt and braces approach.

(a) modifications to the powertrain of a vehicle in category L made by the owner or a garage acting on his behalf must be inspected and approved by the competent authority of the Member State concerned.

This is in contrast to the statement by FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations) made on September 1st on their website “Regarding the issue of planned measures to prevent riders from modifications of the powertrain of their bikes again FEMA very much welcomes amendments that have been put forward by Ms. Westphal. The German MEP suggests to simply rely on national authorities to check and approve bikes after they have been substantially modified”.

The fact is that Ms Westfahl’s amendment refers to all L category vehicles – irrespective of whatever modification has been made.

However Ms Westfahl has offered no justification or explanation of her reasons for this amendment.

Amendment from Italian MEP Matteo Salvini

Also Matteo Salvini Italian MEP picked up on the commission’s proposal in his amendment.

The original text from the commission is:

Paragraph 1 shall not apply to systems, components or separate technical units produced for vehicles intended exclusively for racing on roads. If systems, components or separate technical units on a list in a delegated act to this Regulation have a dual use, for vehicles intended exclusively for racing on roads and for vehicles intended for use on public roads, they may not be sold or offered for sale to consumers.

Mr Salvine added:

……….unless they comply with the requirements of this Article. Where appropriate, the Commission shall adopt provisions for identifying the parts or equipment referred to in this paragraph.

Mr Salvines  justification is: Without the proposed modifications, these prescriptions, that are taken from Directive 2007/46/EC Art. 31, have a completely different meaning, and would actually block the entire market of some particular components. It is fundamental to fully align the text to Article 31 in Directive 2007/46/EC, as proposed.

So what the European Commission did was to chop off the bit they did not want.

Basically what the Commission is saying is that any product in compliance with type-approval rules and also appropriate for racing vehicles cannot be sold to consumers – the “ordinary” motorcyclists.

ACEM the Motorcycle Industry in Europe have stated that, “Article 52 is not applicable, it is highly controversial as it is unclear why any product in compliance with type-approval rules and also appropriate for racing vehicles should be prohibited. All systems, components and separate technical units meeting type-approval requirements have to comply with strict limits and prescriptions.

A ban of such products, if their use can be also adapted to racing vehicles, is unfounded”.

ACEM continues: “This prohibition will furthermore hurt a thriving industry of aftermarket components which puts considerable resources in marketing products meeting every legal requirement. Equally article 52 has the effect of prohibiting the sale of parts necessary for motorcycle sports activities not taking place on public roads. Access to these parts must remain possible.”

We will have to wait to October to find out the result of the “compromises”.

What now?

Well, in the UK,  riders are being coordinated by the Motorcycle Action Group UK to protest against these proposals by organising a national demonstration on September 25th, up and down the motorways and major roads of the UK.

The demonstration also supports the issues that the French and Irish have regarding Hi Viz clothing and the ban of vehicles over 7 years in French cities.

Riders in Ireland are also protesting on the same day, this appears to be organised mainly through motorcycle forums in Ireland, with support from MAG Ireland.

But – we ask – apart from the UK and Ireland, what are the rest of European Riders organisations doing?

Are they protesting against these EU proposals?

Are they lobbying their governments or MEPs?

Are we doomed or just marooned?

Fly in the Ointment – or The Best of British?

During the IMCO meeting several references where made about the UK Government, our ears pricked up at this and we went looking to see what the UK Government had said.

What we found was a report from the Parliamentary European Scrutiny Committee which assesses the legal and/or political importance of each EU document (about 1,100 per year) and decides which are debated.  On the on 19 July 2011 the committee debated the EU Draft Regulation.

The UK government has raised concerns on the European Commission’s draft regulation and the IMCOs draft report.

The committee, which is made up of UK MPs stated “Whilst we recognise that there is general support for the measure, we note that the Government has some concerns, some shared by other Member States, about the proposal.  So before considering the document again we should like to hear about progress in the negotiation — particularly in relation to powers to be delegated to the Commission, minimising the burdens on individuals and very low volume manufacturers, the timetable for changes and the possible disbenefits of the emissions elements of the proposal.”

Specifically The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Mike Penning) reported that – we have picked out the text regarding motorcycling:

  • there has been general support for the proposal from Member States;
  • discussions also covered general requirements for EU type approval, provisions for market surveillance, acceptance of UN-ECE Regulations (in place of EU Directives) and obligations on manufacturers and distributors;
  • the Government and other Member States have expressed concern that the proposal gives the Commission powers to introduce new measures without sufficient scrutiny;
  • there has been support for the Government’s view that, to minimise the burdens on individuals and very low volume manufacturers, Member States should retain the powers to set the requirements for vehicles built and approved singly, for example, amateur self builds;
  • there is general agreement that the timetable for the changes is too ambitious and should be delayed by at least one year to allow time for Member States to implement the new provisions;
  • the Government has concerns with many of the emissions elements of the Commission’s proposal; and the Government’s impact assessment suggests that the costs substantially outweigh the benefits and the benefits are not focussed on the air quality problems that exist throughout the EU — these issues will be discussed in future meetings.

The Minister also gave his views on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) recommendations in its draft report, which is likely to be the basis for the European Parliament’s position.

  • is concerned that the proposed timetable is too ambitious and suggests that the proposed introduction date of 1 January 2013 be put back by one year to 2014;
  • considers that the subsequent dates for the introduction of the various provisions, for example advanced braking, tail pipe emission limits, etc. are too complex and could be simplified, which supports views made by UK industry;
  • supports, in the draft report, the introduction of tighter limits on tail pipe emissions;
  • suggests, however, in the draft report, deleting the first stage and moving straight to the second stage, while keeping the proposed introduction dates — this view is at odds with the Government’s impact assessment, which suggests that only the first stage will be cost effective for the UK;
  • endorses, in the draft report, the introduction of advanced braking system and other safety provisions;
  • supports the introduction of small series and individual vehicle approval to benefit smaller manufacturers; and
  • recognises that the proposed limits on the numbers of vehicles that can be approved through these routes is too low and should be increased.

Although the Minister endorses in the draft report, the introduction of advanced braking systems and other safety provisions, without detailing what these are.

However at least we have a position and thoughts from the UK Government and the proposal is being looked at and is on the radar!


European Scrutiny Committee report – Click Here

Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK) – Action Now! EU Hands Off Biking – Facebook – Click Here

Protest Rides on MAG Ireland website – Click Here

View all our updates on the regulations – Click Here

View all our documents on the regulations – Click Here

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  1. Good piece from our friends at Back Roads Rider

    Wim wonders……

    The van de Camp plan?

    Its simple do everything the Commission wants on, Anti tampering Regulation, Compulsory anti lock brakes or advanced braking systems, Automatic Headlights On (AHO) mandatory on ALL motorcycles sold in the EU, On Board Diagnostics (OBD), Repair and Maintenance Information (RMI), etc etc. But do it over a timescale from 2013 to 2021.

    Yes it’s the good ole “play the long game” compromise.

    Things just won’t seem so bad introduced over eight years will they, besides by year five it will all be forgotten.

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