Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Fourth Report


COM(02) 6

Draft Directive on EC type-approval of agricultural and forestry tractors, their trailers and interchangeable towed equipment, together with their systems, components and separate technical units.

Legal base:Article 95 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated:25 January 2002
Deposited in Parliament:14 February 2002
Basis of consideration:EM of 26 February 2002 and Minister's letter of 18 June 2002
Previous Committee Report:None
To be discussed in Council:Unknown
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared


  8.1  At present, the type approval procedure for agricultural and forestry tractors is set out in EC Directive 74/150. Under that Directive, two systems of type approval, national and European, have co-existed with manufacturers having the option of choosing whichever they wished. In the UK neither system is required, although manufacturers can have their products type approved by UK authorities for sale in other Member States.

The document

  8.2  The aims of the Draft Directive are to replace National Type Approval for agricultural and forestry tractors with a harmonised Community-wide process and to introduce a requirement that it is applied by all Member States. In terms of the effect in the UK, this would mean that the UK would introduce a compulsory type approval scheme, which would be acceptable throughout the Community.

  8.3  The Draft Directive also:

  • extends the scope of EC Type Approval to cover more specific types of tractors and their trailers as well as interchangeable towed equipment and their components;

  • recognises certain international regulations as an alternative such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe or Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development;

  • establishes a procedure for exempting from the Community requirements for these types of vehicles, systems and components anything for which equivalent guarantees can be provided as regards safety standards and environmental protection being met.

The Government's view

  8.4  The Government recognises that adopting EC type approval standards makes it easier and less costly for manufacturers to sell their products in other Member States. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Transport (Mr David Jamieson) also tells us:


"Type approval will mean that vehicles are checked to ensure they meet the legal requirements before being sold. However the costs of the introduction of type approval will be added on to current production costs. Such a scheme would have less financial effect on the larger manufacturers, who already have experience of type approval for export markets, than the smaller UK based manufacturers who have traditionally only served the home market.

"The proposal allows smaller manufacturers to avoid some of the costs of type approval through the provisions for low volume exemption. This allows Member States to exempt manufacturers from one or more of the technical requirements where their annual sale in each Member [State] is less than between 30 and 100 units depending on the type of vehicle. These numbers are insufficient to adequately provide for the smaller manufacturers, most of which do not, and have no wish to, export beyond their domestic market, therefore, consideration could be given to increasing the numerical limits.

  8.5  In his letter of 18 June 2002, the Minister mentions three significant changes made to the text:

  • "the removal of numerical limits on the number of single vehicle approvals that can be issued,

  • the increase in the numerical limits for 'small series' production and

  • the longer timescales for phasing­in the type approval process."

  8.6  The Minister adds that all three changes represent improvements and have the potential to reduce compliance costs for the smaller manufacturers.

  8.7  Overall, the Government's view, based on its partial Regulatory Impact Assessment, is that the proposed Directive will: reduce costs by removing the need to build country specific vehicles; simplify approval procedures; and improve safety standards both on and off the road. The RIA comments that the imposition of a mandatory type approval regime has questionable benefits.


  8.8  The Draft Directive seeks to reduce the cost and administrative burdens in bringing agricultural vehicles to market by replacing the individual national requirements with a uniform, compulsory system that will be acceptable to all Member States, while providing some protection to small manufacturers from higher compliance costs.

  8.9  We are content to clear the document.

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Prepared 11 July 2002