Tajani under fire over ‘simplified’ car registration plans

Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, came under fire from journalists yesterday (4 April) as he presented a proposal aimed at reducing administrative formalities for registering a vehicle in a different EU member state.

Tajani presented a European Commission proposal officially aimed at simplifying the transfer of motor vehicles of EU citizens living in another country. Up to now, these matters were regulated by national law.

The essence of the proposal is that EU citizens permanently living in another EU member state will in future be required to change their vehicle registration within six months of their relocation.

But journalists at the press conference took aim at the initiative, taking their own situation as Brussels expatriates as an example to illustrate the flaws of the proposal. The Belgian procedures for registering are reputed to be extremely cumbersome and expensive. As a result, most expatriates simply give up registering and keep their fingers crossed not to be stopped by the police.

Tajani stressed that under the new proposed procedure, most of the burden would fall on to national administrations, but he was criticised for introducing requirements which appear to be even more stringent than those already in force.

One of the weaknesses of the proposal relates to problems with changing car insurance schemes. Car insurance contracted in Bulgaria for example costs six times less than in Belgium for the same vehicle. By changing registration, the owner of the car needs to contact his insurer and negotiate a new price, adding extra cost to the exercise.

Tajani was also attacked for failing to move toward a single EU car registration and plate scheme. Indeed, under his plans, car plates would need to be changed as if national borders were still in place across the EU.

On the defensive, Tajani replied that he had tabled proposals that would stand a chance of passing through Parliament and especially through the EU Council of Ministers, where individual EU countries can kill the proposal.

“We are not the United States. We cannot abolish the member states,” Tajani said, adding that on previous occasions, “very good proposals” had been blocked by the Council.t

“When we will become the United States of Europe, we will have more ambition,” he said.

The Italian commissioner was also attacked for favouring car-rental companies, which will be able to transfer cars to another EU country during the holiday periods without re-registration.

Asked if his close relations with the car industry had influenced the draft text, Tajani said he had never been influenced by any industry, and that this was not “his” proposal, but the result of collective work in the Commission.

The Commission hopes that its proposal will come into effect in 2014.


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