MEP Jim Nicholson Meets

On Friday 20th January 2012 Northern Ireland Conservative and Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson sat down over a cup of coffee with Right To Ride’s Trevor Baird and Elaine Hardy to talk about the proposed European regulation on motorcycles that is at present working its way through Parliament.

While talking about the technical issues in the proposed regulation, such as mandatory ABS (Advanced Braking Systems) for motorcycles including a current proposal for those under 125cc, also discussed were the EU Parliamentary procedures that will affect this proposal.

Our thanks to Jim Nicholson for taking the time to sit down and discuss these issues with us and for the offer to keep in touch on a regular basis to exchange information.

Jim Nicholson –


As we reported in April last year, this EU Commission proposal – Approval and market surveillance of two – or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles – is the first to be dealt with since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

Jim is a “seasoned” MEP and dealt with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which included legislative changes in the co-decision procedure (Renamed – ‘Ordinary Legislative Procedure’).

The ‘Ordinary Legislative Procedure’ requires that the EU Commission sends its proposal to Parliament and the Council (the governments of the 27 EU countries) and this needs to be approved by both the EU Parliament and the Council to become law.

At this point in time we are in the middle of the Legislative Procedure which includes heading towards a First Reading in the European Parliament.

According to the draft minutes of the MCWG meeting of December 14th (published January 16th 2012), “the plenary meeting of the European Parliament regarding the first reading of the codecision proposal is planned to take place on 19 April 12 (to be confirmed).


Before this First Reading in the European Parliament there are informal negotiations taking place known as trilogues.

These trilogues are attended by representatives of the European Parliament (MEPS known as Rapporteurs and, where appropriate, Shadow Rapporteurs), the Council (chair of the working party and/or Coreper – representatives of the governments of the Member States), and the Commission (the 3 European institutions) in order to converge their positions”.

These trilogues are important at this stage because the, “European Parliament’s Legislative Resolution”, the document that came out of vote at the IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection) committee on the 5th December, contains a raft of amendments to the original European Commission’s proposal and these must be agreed on by the Council and Parliament.

If there is no agreement in First Reading e.g. approval of all the amendments or they are rejected, the procedure continues with a Second Reading or a conciliation procedure with a Third Reading, a Conciliation Committee to reach an agreement or if there is no agreement, then the regulation is not adopted.


Discussions are also taking place on the more technical matters in the delegated and implementing acts (how the regulation will be delivered) through the Commission’s Motorcycle Working Group (MCWG).

This is attended by stakeholders, including FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations), FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme), ACEM (The Motorcycle Industry In Europe), Member States Government representatives and others.

These processes are complicated to understand but it’s where Right To Ride is placed at the moment, constantly communicating with the various “players” in this procedure.

As Jim explained, “The draft legislation is still at Committee stage. No decisions have been finalised and they are just beginning the trilogue stage of First Reading. Once this moves on to Council stage, the draft legislation is likely to be altered drastically.”


MEPs are usually attached to political groups in the European Parliament and Jim is part of the ECR Group (European Conservatives and Reformists Group). This is the same group as Malcolm Harbour MEP and chair of the IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection) which has presented the European Parliament’s Legislative Resolution on the European Commission’s proposal after the vote on the 5th December 2011.

Although these political groups adopt positions for their MEPs to vote in the European Parliament no MEP can be forced to vote in a particular way.

Jim explained that the German MEP and Shadow Rapporteur Kerstin Westphal made clear at the IMCO vote that S&D (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament) could convince the other groups to mandate ABS (Advanced Braking Systems) also for low-performance motorcycles up to 125cc.

However the ECR Group argues that this is in fact quite dangerous. CBS (Combined Braking System) is actually much safer for low-performance motorcycles and costs 80-90% as much as fitting ABS (Anti-lock Braking Systems). ABS could actually make low-performance motorcycles such as scooters more dangerous. The second contentious issue, outlined in Parliament Services’ Impact Assessment is that some groups want to bring the implementation date forward a year, which again the ECR disagree with.

The IMCO is carrying out its own Impact Assessment on amendments voted on in the IMCO Committee, specifically in relation to:

  • Moving the ABS introduction date forward by a year;
  • Extending ABS cover to Powered Two Wheelers more than 50cc;
  • Earlier introduction of On Board Diagnostics II (OBD II)

Although these have been voted on in the IMCO Committee, our understanding is that if the Impact Assessment is negative towards these issues, then these amendments will change or be removed.

At Right To Ride we consider the Impact Assessment in the procedures to be advantageous and it should be allowed to run its course and not be used as part of any tactics calling for the Parliamentary vote to be delayed.

Getting To Grips

While at Right To Ride we are working to get to grips with the process and provide updates, as a rider you can still write to your MEP to voice your concerns on the specific issues.

UK riders and UK rider organisations have been very vocal and active through lobbying, writing to MEPs and demonstrating to raise their concerns about the proposal.

While at Right To Ride we may not agree with some of the distractions that are not relevant to the proposal and the anti-EU rhetoric, we certainly support the noise that is being made this side of the European land mass, i.e. in the U.K. and Ireland.


Our thanks to Jim Nicholson for taking the time to sit down and discuss these issues with us and for the offer to keep in touch on a regular basis to exchange information.


Jim Nicholson –

Decision-making in the European Union – Click Here

Political Groups EU Parliament

European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe European Conservatives and Reformists Greens/European Free Alliance European United Left – Nordic Green Left Europe of Freedom and Democracy



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