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Tag ‘MOT’

Holiday season bumper Euromyths special

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Seems it is the season to be jolly cavalier with the facts over EU stories, so we are posting this composite five-part myth-buster correcting misleading stories about films, cars, I-pods, insurance and pensions. There is perhaps merit in asking the question: how can there be a serious debate in the UK about EU issues amid this cacophony of misinformation?

First, the Sun claimed on Sunday 16 December that the EU was demanding £1.5 billion to subsidise “boring European films”. In fact, The King’s Speech, Tinker Tailor, Soldier Spy and The Woman in Black are just some of the non-boring and very British films supported with EU funding and – partly as a direct result of that – enjoyed by many film-goers around the world, thus bringing in cash to the UK.

The funding is mostly agreed before the film is released – when it’s far from clear that a particular film would have big box office potential. On the basis of the theme, no one could have predicted the global success of the Kings Speech, for instance. A very English film about a stuttering English king and his speech therapist – not an obvious hit on paper.

The idea that European audiovisual work is “boring” also may not be shared by Sun readers who are fans of The Killing, Untouchable and many more.

Second, the Telegraph claimed that only sterling work by Roads Minister Stephen Hammond had prevented “Brussels” introducing rules that would have “forced owners of classic cars to take them off the road if they had been modified in any way” and “forced more than a million caravans and trailers to undergo an MOT.”  But the Commission’s proposals on roadworthiness testing would not have forced any classic cars off the road, would not have made subject to testing any UK trailers or caravans not already subject to it….. and indeed would barely have affected the UK at all, as we already made clear here on this site in September.

Third, in a similar vein of trumpeting non-existent victories over a nefarious “Brussels” monster, a series of newspapers, led by the Evening Standard on 20 December, claimed the UK had “rebuffed plans to slap a £15 tax on i-Pods and other gadgets”. But there are no such plans to rebuff. And European officials were not “set to unveil plans for an EU-wide system of levies set by Brussels”.  Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier has indeed asked respected former Portuguese Commissioner and Minister Antonio Vitorino to make a report on the best way of achieving coherence in various rules across Europe on private copying of music, film, etc. But Mr Vitorino has not yet reported. When he does, it will then be for the  Commission to decide whether and how to make legislative proposals to act on what he suggests….and even if the Commission does make proposals, those rules would still only enter into force if a large majority of national Ministers – under the qualified majority voting system – and a majority of MEPs agreed. So no need to “go into battle against Europe” in the colourful but rather over-imaginative phrase used by the Standard. In fact what happens in Europe are discussions between partners, of which the UK is a very influential one, not least on single market issues like this.

Next, the new insurance rules based on the European Court of Justice verdict last year that gender discrimination in pricing was illegal. These rules enter into force today and many media reported this accurately. But many others did not, despite the Commission making a fact sheet available in advance of publication. The Daily Telegraph suggested wrongly that “Although young women tend to be safer drivers than men of the same age the new rules mean they will no longer be able to benefit from their care on the road.” The paper had the good grace to print our letter of correction – in full on this occasion: see earlier posts on this site for example of how they and other newspapers have edited our replies in order to soften them.

The letter reads: “The European Court verdict outlawing gender discrimination in insurance will not stop women drivers benefiting from “their care on the road” (report, December 20). The new rules are about fairer pricing. Male drivers will no longer pay more just because they are men. Instead, all safe drivers will pay less than drivers who are less safe, and the costs and benefits of a private pension will depend on individual circumstances and not just gender. The European Commission is insisting that price cuts be passed on to policy-holders as fairly as increases. Innovative and competitive insurance companies have every incentive to apply fairer pricing cost-effectively. Some are already doing so.”

Finally, and sticking with the insurance industry, several media including the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express followed up previous inaccurate stories on this issue by claiming that “new EU pension rules” would cost 180 000 jobs and cost British business £350 billion. This was based on a press release from the CBI and an initial report from the Press Association (later corrected), neither of which made clear one very important fact – not only are there no new rules but the European Commission has not even put on the table any proposals for new legislation.

What is more, the Commissioner responsible, Michel Barnier, has given repeated assurances – some of which have featured on this site, see here – that many of the fears being expressed are based on misunderstandings.

The reports quoted a range of sources fulminating against the “reckless” – but as yet non-existent – plans. Only the Telegraph, to its credit, came to the Commission for a comment – but it then put it right at the end of its article.

The truth of the situation is that the Commission asked the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) – an EU advisory and implementing body with no power to make or even propose EU law – to perform an initial study on the issue. When that was submitted in February 2012, the Commission requested that EIOPA follow up with a full quantitative impact study, which is now in progress, based on a wide consultation.  The CBI report will be valuable input to the study and to the wider consultation process.

Only once that impact study is complete – and once the Commission is in a position to take full account of all of the evidence and of the views of all stakeholders  – will the Commission come forward with a proposal.  Even then, such a proposal would only become EU law if agreed by MEPs and Ministers.

The aim of reviewing the relevant EU laws is to make sure that pension schemes are sustainable and that members are not left high and dry with no pay out – as has happened in some cases in the past.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all
The EC in London team

Press reports on EC proposals on MOT tests are incorrect

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Reports in the press that the European Commission has proposed to make modifications to cars illegal, or to ban classic cars unless they are unchanged since manufacture are entirely wrong.

The Commission’s proposals would not, if agreed by the Member States and the European Parliament, make any difference to the current situation regarding MOT testing in the UK except to make most classic cars more than 30 years old exempt from testing if they are not used day-to-day on the roads.

All other cars would remain subject to roadworthiness testing, just as they are now. Whether or not they have been modified is not of itself relevant: what counts is whether they are safe and that is what is assessed by MOT tests in the UK and by the equivalent tests elsewhere.

What the proposals will do is require all Member States to bring their road worthiness tests up to a certain level of rigour, already applied in the UK : for example, motorbikes will need to be tested regularly everywhere, as they are already in the UK. This will make driving safer for UK drivers at home and abroad.

The Commission is writing separately to all the newspapers concerned, none of which checked the facts with us before publication.

Re “Brussels wants 2-year MOT tests” (Sunday Express, 15th August 2010)

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Letter to the Sunday Express, sent on 20th August 2010:

Dear Sir,

Contrary to the claims in your article “Brussels wants 2-year MOT tests”, 15 August 2010, let me reassure your readers that the European Commission has not proposed scrapping annual MOTs in the UK. It is undertaking a consultation to gauge the public’s views. If your readers wish to highlight the value of annual testing, I suggest they take part in the consultation at:

Separately, EU legislation has recently been updated to take on board best practice in vehicle testing. This has only slightly influenced the UK’s MOT system as most of the new elements were already covered, and in any case this amendment did not touch on frequency of the tests.

Yours faithfully

Antonia Mochan
Head of Media
European Commission Representation, London

British MOTs to be watered down

Tuesday, April 5th, 1994

Britain may have to ease MoT’s on cars in order to comply with a Directive from Brussels that aims to harmonise procedures throughout the EU. This would result in tests not starting until cars are four years old, unlike the three year limit in the UK, thereafter they would need be tested only at two year intervals, as opposed to the UK’s compulsory annual test.
(Daily Mail, p20, 5 April 1994)

This is wholly untrue. The European Commission has no intention of proposing anything of the sort.
There is a Directive (*) in force that sets out minimum standards for MoT tests. Most national standards, including all existing UK ones, are perfectly in line with this and therefore needn’t be changed in the least to satisfy European law.(*) – Directive 88/849, amended by Directive 91/225

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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