EU decision means UK MoT Test stays as is

As reported on the e-bulletin of the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation, the EU looks set to finalise its requirements for vehicle testing in a format which will allow the UK’s MoT regime to remain in its present form. The agreement follows many months of hard lobbying both in Brussels and here in the UK.

There had been deep concerns that the UK’s MoT system, which has delivered some of the safest road vehicles in Europe, would be diluted as a consequence of European rules aimed at bringing some of the newer member states into reasonable order.  Although the UK government disagreed with many of the EU Commission’s proposals, there was a distinct possibility that the UK’s views might be disregarded.

Some of the EU proposals would have severely disadvantaged independent aftermarket companies and the IAAF was amongst several trade bodies taking steps to make sure that the UK aftermarket’s voice was heard.

The Lithuanian Presidency has now informed the European Parliament that, on the 18th of December, the member states’ Permanent Representatives (i.e. head of Missions, or ambassadors) endorsed the compromise reached between the Council and the Parliament concerning updating rules on periodic roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles, roadside inspections of commercial vehicles and vehicle registration documents (aka the roadworthiness proposals – originally tabled by the EU Commission).

It has now been agreed that the new rules will be actioned by means of Directive, rather than by Regulation. This gives individual Member states to freedom to apply rules applicable to their own country, so long as certain minimum standards are met.  Importantly, Member States will be allowed to set higher test standards than required by the EU Directive, (as in the UK).

The minimum requirement for testing passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (Category M1 and N1 vehicles) will be tests four years after their first registration date, and every two years thereafter. M1-category vehicles used as taxis or ambulances; buses and coaches (M2, M3); heavier commercial vehicles (N2, N3); and heavy trailers (O3, O4) must be checked one year after their first registration date and subsequently each year.

So the current UK requirement of testing cars three years after first registration date, and every year thereafter will remain.

Within five years the Commission will submit to the European Parliament and the Council a report on the effectiveness of the possible inclusion of light trailers (with a mass exceeding 0.75 tonnes but not exceeding 3.5 tonnes – (category O2) and light motorcycles in the scope of the directive. So, although caravanners are off the hook at present, there is a distinct likelihood that testing will be required at some point in the future.

The agreed definition of a Roadworthiness Test does not include a reference to the need to check parts and components anymore, but on instead defines a roadworthiness test as “an inspection to ensure that a vehicle is safe to be used on public roads and complies with required and mandatory safety and environmental characteristics” In fact, the wording now makes sense in relation to the overall purpose of a technical inspection. The proposal to include checking to see that only parts meeting the original vehicle type-approval specification were seen as both unworkable and damaging to the independent aftermarket.

While there will still be a need to verify that parts and components comply with safety and environmental requirements, both the Council and the Parliament agreed that in any case, whether such a check would be required, it should be carried out “without the use of tools to dismantle or remove any part of the vehicle”.

In the convoluted decision-making process in Europe, the agreed text will now have to be formally adopted both by the Parliament and the Council. The Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN), leading on the dossier, is planning to vote at the end of January. This vote will be followed by a plenary (i.e. full EU Parliament) session at the end of February. Once the Parliament has formally adopted the package, the Council will formally agree as well.

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