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Tag ‘Roads’

Reports of “Brussels Big Brother Bid” to impose speed controls are inaccurate beyond the limit

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Reports in the press over the last day or two have suggested that the EU intends to bring forward “formal proposals this autumn” to introduce automatic speed controls -known as “Intelligent Speed Adaptation” or ISA, into cars. This is quite simply not true and the Commission had made this very clear to the journalists concerned prior to publication.

The Mail on Sunday for example (the only one of these articles online with no paywall), uses a quote from a Commission spokesman but chooses to leave out the first and most important sentence given to the paper’s reporter, which was this:

“The Commission has not tabled – and does not have in the pipeline – even a non-binding Recommendation, let alone anything more.”

The Daily Mail on Monday 2 September had the integrity to include this quote, but only at the end of an article confirming the incorrect slant that the Commission was proposing introducing the system. According to the Mail’s imaginative opening paragraph cars would be fitted with it “if Brussels bureaucrats have their way”.

The Sun On Sunday failed to use the quote above, which it had been asked to use, but stated that “motorists are set to be forced to have ‘Big Brother’ anti-speeding systems fitted in all new cars under EU rules”.

In addition to receiving the quote in writing, the Sun had been told repeatedly in a phone conversation that there was no proposal and none on the way. But it manipulated the conversation to imply that we had said we could not understand why there would be any difficulty with introducing ISA. In fact, we had said we were surprised if the UK government were upset that the Commission consulted it on research into improving road safety, given close cooperation in the past.

The Sun also made the odd statement that the “proposal is being pushed by the unelected European Commission”. Needless to say, it rarely reminds its readers that actual decisions on EU law are taken by elected Ministers and MEPs, including those from the UK.
For the record, the rest of the quote supplied said to all the journalists involved said this:

“The Commission has supported past research into ISA. There is a current stakeholder consultation and study focusing on speed limiting technology already fitted to HGVs and buses. One aspect of that is whether ISA could in the long-term be an alternative.
And a second consultation on in-vehicle safety systems in general. Taking account of the consultation results, the Commission will publish in the autumn a document by its technical experts which will no doubt refer to ISA among many other things. That is all. (NB such “staff working documents” are not adopted by the Commission at political level and have no legal status.) Nothing more is expected in the foreseeable future.

It is part of the EC’s job – because it has been mandated to do so by Member States, including the UK – to look at, promote research into and consult stakeholders about new road safety technology which might ultimately save lives. This is done in close cooperation with Member States and the UK has generally supported such efforts.”

It might indeed also seem strange to some that the UK government -if the press reports are accurate at least in that respect – apparently objects so violently to even being consulted about a range of future ways in which lives could be saved on Europe’s roads.

Getting in a spin over HGV rules

Friday, August 9th, 2013

According to the Sun, “Rule reverse” 8 August 2013″, a “barmy EU rule which forces mechanics to carry out specialist driving training is to be scrapped” and attributes comments from the UK Road Minister Stephen Hammond that “ditching this rule will save businesses £29 million a year”.

Reducing red tape and cutting costs for strapped-for-cash businesses is to be applauded.  But just slow down a minute, all is not what it seems.

Under the spotlight are EU rules which came into force in September 2006 (Directive 2003/59/EC).  These apply in principle to all drivers engaged in the professional transport of goods and passengers, but with exemptions in case driving is not the main activity.  For instance, Article 2c stipulates that the Directive shall not apply to drivers of vehicles undergoing road tests for technical development, repair or maintenance purposes, or of new or rebuilt vehicles which have not yet been put into service.

The driving force behind the media coverage is a a Department of Transport press release which also announces the UK Government “intends to look again at whether the scope of exemptions from driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) can be extended in respect of farmers”.

The Commission has always made clear that it is up to EU member states’ to assess if an exemption could be applied to a specific activity and to ensure that this does not lead to abuses, but it is difficult to predict what the government has in mind for agricultural workers.

However it is worth pointing out that under the EU rules most agricultural vehicles are likely to fall under Article 2a which already exempts vehicles with a maximum authorised speed not exceeding 45 km/h. Furthermore, Article 2g of the Directive exempts vehicles carrying material or equipment to be used by the driver in the course of his or her work, provided that driving the vehicle is not the driver’s principal activity, which might also apply to farmers in some circumstances.

Coincidentally, the Commission is considering a review of Directive 2003/59/EC and in July published a public consultation as a first step.  Contributions are welcome by all interested parties until 25 October 2013.

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.

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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