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Publication of Commission’s Impact Assessment and Policy Orientations on Future Legal Framework for the Automotive Sector

Date

24 Jul 2009

Sections

Transport

FIGIEFA welcomes the Commission’s recognition of need for specific rules for the automotive aftermarket, but calls upon the Commission to make them ‘future-proof’

Brussels, 22 July 2009

The European Commission released today its impact assessment and policy orientations for the future of the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation 1400/2002 (MV-BER), which is due to expire on 31 May 2010.

FIGIEFA, the European federation representing the independent wholesalers of automotive replacement parts, welcomes that the European Commission intends to address core aftermarket issues in a future legal framework. The Impact Assessment and Commission Communication found the aftermarket to suffer from competition shortcomings to a greater extent than the primary market.

In the past months, FIGIEFA had repeatedly emphasised the need for unrestricted access to technical information, the necessity to uphold the freedom to source and supply automotive spare parts or the need to maintain consumers’ rights during the vehicle’s warranty period. These aspects have been taken up by the Commission. “Clearly worded hard-core restrictions are crucial for SMEs operating in the market of vehicle spare parts, servicing and repair. Robust rules and continued enforcement help the sector to give consumers true choice in the aftermarket care of their vehicles”, states FIGIEFA President Michel Vilatte.

The Commission Communication outlines two policy options for the aftermarket, i.e. the application of the general competition rules in conjunction with sector-specific guidelines and/or a sectoral block exemption regulation. FIGIEFA considers that a sector-specific regulation is the most suitable legal form to deal with the specific problems affecting the automotive aftermarket to date. Supplementary guidelines on the application of competition law to the automotive sector, as well as enforcement actions, are a necessary complement to provide more detailed clarifications for stakeholders, and to ensure the proper functioning of competition.

FIGIEFA welcomes the Commission’s view on competition shortcomings in the aftermarket and favours the application of modernised sector-specific rules as from 2010.

FIGIEFA calls however upon the Commission to use the next months to tackle the deficiencies of the current MV-BER and to create more up-to-date, more robust and more complete rules for the aftermarket. “Any new provisions for the aftermarket must resolve outstanding problems. We are pleased that the Commission considers restrictive warranty terms one of them”, says Michel Vilatte. “The new rules must be ‘future-proof’ for the next decade. As an example, the current provision on access to technical information was drafted in 2001 with the technical knowledge of that time. Allowing for considerable margin of interpretation with view to the technical details, it has been misused in the past by vehicle manufacturers to deny access to important parts of the information. Therefore, Art. 4(2) of the MV-BER must be adapted to technical progress and be amended in view of the new provisions of the Euro 5 Regulation 715/2007”, he says.

FIGIEFA will submit its detailed comments on the policy options proposed by the European Commission in the coming weeks.

For further information, please contact Sylvia Gotzen at the FIGIEFA Secretariat on + 32 2 761 95 10.

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