TTIP targets automotive safety standard harmonisation
On Friday, May 6, the European Commission published minutes from the TTIP Advisory Group meeting held on April 5. A number of issues were on the agenda, including engineering, ICT, cars, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics, textiles, procurement, services, rules of origins and customs, energy and raw materials, sustainability impact assessment (SIA) and CETA.
Below is an excerpt from the minutes which focused on cars:
Mr. Iruarrizaga explained that there is a common understanding between the EU and the US that certain automotive regulatory issues should be dealt with in TTIP. The last round served to advance the technical work and review the different regulatory areas related to safety (based on the three test cases) to determine how they should be addressed.
There is ongoing work with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to decide whether there can be agreement on equivalence or on harmonisation in specific areas of regulation. The Commission clarified that this will be done in full compliance with the EU’s international commitments (the UNECE conventions).
Mr. Iruarrizaga described the identification of common rules in some areas together with the US as a step towards future global harmonisation in Geneva. Overall, he added that the 12th round had brought positive developments but that there was still considerable technical work ahead.
The following points were raised in discussion:
- One member inquired about when the test case on crashworthiness would be published, and asked for further detail about the specific regulations under consideration, as well as how the eventual chapter would be structured. Mr. Iruarrizaga agreed to check the status of the test case, and explained that the specific regulations are considered step by step. Work has started on the architecture of the chapter, and a draft would be made available in a timely manner for the group. Intersessional work continues to follow up matters discussed during the previous round and to prepare the next: it makes sense to report on this in line with the rounds, though if significant steps are taken then the group could be informed.
- One member asked for additional details on equivalence of regulations, and wondered whether harmonisation is really practical. Mr. Iruarrizaga explained that the approach taken by the EU and the US was to determine whether the effects of their respective regulations are broadly equivalent and whether further data is needed to confirm it. On harmonisation, three areas have already been identified and they will constitute the first challenge to the possibility of an expedited harmonisation process. The Commission clarified that whatever is harmonised, the EU and US will work together to do so also in the UNECE format, since the objective is to work as far as possible towards a multilateral system.
- One member questioned how this objective could be reached, given that the US and EU do not agree on the concept of an international standard. Mr. Iruarrizaga recognised the longstanding disagreement between the EU and the US on this point, but explained that both parties were looking at equivalence or harmonisation of actual regulations (not the standards that support them) in the automotive TTIP discussions. The EU has noted to the US side that as well as working together to project bilateral harmonisation efforts into the UNECE system, this must not detract from the EU’s work under the 1958 UNECE agreement (the US being only party to the 1998 UNECE agreement).
In: CLEPA News, Growth & Competitiveness, Safety