20 January 2012

Letter to your MEP regarding EU Regulation

The world of motorcycle politics is so terrifically exciting and fast moving, it's small wonder we don't sleep!  (Or is it just me that finds it so?)
The proposed EU Regulation on type approval and market surveillance that we've come to know and love over the past 16 months, did pass its 'first reading' on 5th December when the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) voted on it and the near 300 amendments that been put forward.
You'll also be aware (unless you are new to these mailings) that not only did they accept the bulk of the original proposal, but added a few extra bits that aren't exactly in the best interests of the consumers they are meant to be protecting. One of my emails last week outlined horrified responses from both the European motorcycle retailers (ETRA) and the manufacturers association (ACEM) so it's good to know that apart from the UK Government, much of the rest of the bike industry is now aware of the power and possible outcome of this legislation. ABS for everything from 50cc up and the new article 18a which now covers modifications 'by the users or those acting on their behalf', which has got the retailers and bike shops upset. The new article 3 paragraph 68 now also specifies 'engine management systems or any other control module' which of course covers the power commanders etc that we highlighted a year ago and were told was nonsense. It also reiterates 'the transmission and its control, either a drive shaft or belt drive or chain drive, the differentials, the final drive and the driven wheel tyre (radius)' which is all a bit belt and braces.
But aside from the content, there is much that is concerning about the legislative process, as was highlighted last weekend when MAG organised another Riders Are Voters event in Crawley at P&H Motorcycles.
Peter Skinner, Labour MEP for the South East has received more correspondence on this Regulation than any other (he first became an MEP in 1994) so he agreed to meet riders in one go so that he could hear all the concerns.
The bulk of the questions he was asked were about procedure:
  • How could the Committee have voted before the impact assessment results were in?
  • Why does the EU Parliament have to vote on a regulation when the specific technical elements of what is affected, will be decided after the vote?
  • How can they make an informed decision when the 'Delegated Acts' (the technical bits) that are central to this, will be written later?
  • If we are now seeing drafts of the Delegated Acts and they include mention of cycle parts, surely that is outside the scope of the Regulation?
  • If the Commission didn't do the research before they introduced the proposal (saying as they did, that they had no baseline data but hoped they'd get some later) is it even legal?
Mr Skinner was really taken aback by the breadth of knowledge the assembled 100 or so riders had, and their articulate nature, but he was more taken aback by the legislation itself, having had to read it all before the event (which is of course, the very nature of what MAG does, getting representatives to actually read what they are going to vote on.)
He did say that we must never stop writing to MEPs about this, but what surprised me was that he said pro-forma letters are still OK, if you add the following; Please reply to the Central Office of the Motorcycle Action Group who are compiling responses.
His advice was that a standard and irrelevant response cannot be churned out by reply. The MEP will have to direct their attention to every part of the letter as numbers grow, in the knowledge that their response will be made very public, that they will be publicly held to account and that their later vote in the EU Parliament will be monitored. On the plus side, they only have to write one letter! Everyone's a winner.
So, given all of the above here is a suggested letter. If you don't wish to use it, please do try to use some of the points within it.
Please click here www.ridersarevoters.org and press the button that says 'Find Your MEP'. Remember, you probably have 6 or 7 MEPs so please write to each one of them.

As a constituent, I would like to raise my concerns regarding the content and progress of a piece of European Legislation, currently timetabled for Plenary vote on 14th March.

The proposed EU Regulation on Type Approval and Market Surveillance of two and three-wheeled vehicles passed its first reading, Committee stage, on 5th December even though an impact assessment on many elements of the proposal was ongoing.


Some new text adopted by the (IMCO) Committee, especially the extension of mandatory ABS to all scooters and motorcycles, the introduction of a new Article 18a (see below) and the Delegated Acts (drafts of which are now available), appear to have moved well outside the scope of the Commission's original proposal. Article 18a also relies on Member States to establish National policing.


ABS is being adopted by some riders, but the technology is not as advanced as for cars and there are many riding conditions where it is not suitable, or where combined braking systems (in which the industry has invested heavily) are more suitable, especially with smaller scooters. The Commission's mandating of ABS is therefore inappropriate for both the market and manufacturing.


Articles 17 and 52 also directly impact on motorcyclists as consumers, controlling the sale and availability of after-market parts within the EU and the modification of certain aspects of the machine to suit riding conditions.

The Plenary session vote has now been timetabled for 14th March, which is too soon to enable sufficient discussion beforehand and which permits no time within the chamber for debate.


This debate is necessary, as there are many parts of this Regulation which I, as a rider and consumer, welcome, so this cannot be a yes/no vote on the acceptance or rejection of the proposal as a whole.


It is welcome for example, that Article 22 will lead to CO2 emissions being published at point of sale for every model. Similarly, paragraph 9 (page 11) which aims to over-turn the earlier decision to introduce power limits for motorcycles (1995), on the basis that no evidence can be found of a correlation between safety and power. This assertion rather undermines one of the central tenets of the whole proposal, that speed or 'tuning' has a detrimental effect on safety, again forcing the assumption that the Commission's proposals appear not to be evidence led.


I urge you to read the Regulation COM (2010) 542 and the consolidated text post the IMCO Committee vote, which is not in the public domain and use your influence to delay the Parliamentary vote.

Could I respectfully ask that you send your reply to Central Office of the Motorcycle Action Group who are compiling replies in order to monitor voting behaviour. This can be either electronically to  campaigns-coordinator@mag-uk.org

or by post to:

PO Box 750
CV34 9FU
Yours Sincerely
Article 18a- Measures and Proceedings regarding modifications to L-category vehicles by the users or those acting on their behalf
1. If substantial modifications are made to the powertrain components by the user or by those acting on his behalf the vehicle shall comply with the technical requirements of the initial vehicle category and subcategory, or, if applicable, the new vehicle category and subcategory, which were in force when the original vehicle was sold, registered or entered into service. Those modifications shall be inspected and approved by the competent authorities in the Member States.
3. A modification is substantial when it affects the safety of the vehicle or its emissions to the environment. A modification is deemed to be substantial when it renders the original type approval obsolete.

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