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       EU Policies 02/02/2016
The European Commission presents a Proposal for a Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles

On 27 January 2016 the European Commission has laid legislative proposals on the table to ensure car manufacturers comply strictly with all EU safety, environmental and production requirements. The Commission has proposed a major revision of the so-called EU type approval framework. 

The Commission was already reviewing the EU type approval framework for motor vehicles prior to the Volkswagen revelations. It has since concluded on the need for more far-reaching reform to prevent cases of non-compliance from happening again. The proposal for a Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles complements efforts to introduce more robust emissions testing (Real Driving Emissions testing).

The current type approval system is based on mutual trust – once a car is certified in one Member State, it can circulate freely throughout the EU. While the EU sets the legal framework, national authorities[1] are fully responsible for checking car manufacturers' compliance. The draft Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles maintains the principle of mutual recognition, which is at the core of the EU Single Market, but seeks to correct the flaws in the system.

The proposal for a Regulation will help to achieve three objectives:

  • Reinforce the independence and quality of testing that allows a car to be placed on the market: The majority of Member States designate technical services[2], which are paid directly by car manufacturers, for the testing and inspection of the vehicle's compliance with EU type approval requirements. The Commission proposes to modify the remuneration system to avoid financial links between technical services and manufacturers, which could lead to conflicts of interest and compromise the independence of testing. The proposal also foresees more stringent performance criteria for these technical services, which should be regularly and independently audited to obtain and maintain their designation. National type approval authorities will be subject to peer reviews to ensure that the relevant rules are implemented and enforced rigorously across the EU.
  • Introduce an effective market surveillance system to control the conformity of cars already in circulation: While the current rules deal mainly with ex ante controls, in the future Member States and the Commission will carry out spot-checks on vehicles already on the market. This will make it possible to detect non-compliance at an early stage, and ensure that immediate and robust remedial action is taken against vehicles that are found to be non-compliant and/or to present a serious safety risk or harm to the environment. All Member States should be able to take safeguard measures against non-compliant vehicles on their territory without waiting for the authority that issued the type approval to take action. Member States will have to review regularly the functioning of their market surveillance activities and make the results publicly available.
  • Reinforce the type approval system with greater European oversight: The Commission will have the power to suspend, restrict or withdraw the designation of technical services that are underperforming and too lax in applying the rules. In the future the Commission will be able to carry out ex-post verification testing (through its Joint Research Centre) and, if needed, initiate recalls. By allowing the Commission to impose financial penalties, the proposal will deter manufacturers and technical services from allowing non-compliant vehicles onto the market. The Commission will also chair an Enforcement Forum which will develop common compliance verification strategies with Member States and organise joint audits of technical services and peer reviews of type-approval authorities.

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: "The Single Market requires rigorous enforcement across sectors, including the car industry. With our proposals today we will raise the quality and independence of vehicle testing and improve the oversight of cars already in circulation. This complements our efforts to introduce the most robust emissions testing procedures in the world, which we will keep refining and reviewing to ensure the strictest emissions limits are really met."

Next steps

The draft Regulation will now be sent to the European Parliament and Council, which should adopt their positions on the proposal. After its final adoption, the Regulation will be directly applicable. It will repeal and replace Directive 2007/46/EC (the ‘Framework Directive’).

Source and further information:

The development of the proposal will be closely monitored by CEOC International as it will likely change the current type approval system for cars.

The Special Newsbriefing is also available to download here.

[1] National public authorities are: (e.g. KBA in Germany, RDW in the Netherlands) “in charge of officially approving vehicles before they can be put on the EU market. This approval procedure takes place before a manufacturer introduces a new type of vehicle on the market (pre-market checks). The decision to approve a new vehicle type is based on compliance tests that are carried out by testing bodies and laboratories (‘technical services’) that are either in-house or, in most cases, specifically designated by the type approval authorities.”  The European Commission. Accessed 2 February 2016.

[2] Technical service are: “the test bodies and laboratories that are specifically designated by Member States’ type approval authorities to carry out the type approval tests in accordance with EU legislation. Most type approval authorities designate external technical services, but there are also type approval authorities that have them in-house (e.g. the United Kingdom).” The European Commission. Accessed 2 February 2016.


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