Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Ninth Report





COM(02) 351

Amended draft Directive amending Council Directive 92/6/EEC on the installation and use of speed limitation devices for certain categories of motor vehicles in the Community.

Legal base:

Article 71 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting


Document originated:

26 June 2002

Deposited in Parliament:

8 July 2002



Basis of consideration:

EM of 19 July 2002

Previous Committee Report:

None; but see (22543) 10546/01: HC 152-vi (2001-02), paragraph 9 (14 November 2001) and HC 152-xxxii (2001-02), paragraph 15 (12 June 2002)

To be discussed in Council:

Not known

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:




    1. In November 2001, we cleared a draft Directive which would extend in full to lighter heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), buses and coaches and midi-coaches and minibuses the speed limits and speed limitation devices already applied to the heaviest classes of HGVs. We noted that the Government was strongly opposed to the fitting of speed limiters to lighter HGVs (i.e. those below 7.5 tonnes). In June we reported progress on the draft Directive and recalled our previous request for the Government to undertake and publish research on the use of speed limitation devices. On 25 June 2002 the Government was alone in voting against a Council common position on the draft, and made the following statement:
    2. "We are not convinced that the safety and environmental effects of fitting limiters as proposed to the lighter vehicles would be beneficial, and [it] may indeed be detrimental. We therefore welcome the suggested early review by the Commission of the road safety and traffic implications of restricting the lighter vehicles, to which the proposals apply, to the same speed limits as are already required of larger vehicles."

      The document

    3. The Commission has now proposed an amended draft Directive which maintains the essence of the original. In particular it:

    • includes goods vehicles exceeding 3.5 tonnes and minibuses and midi-coaches with more than eight passengers; and


    • does not address the Government's concerns that the proposal is too wide in scope, that retro-fitting should not be required and that there should be higher speed limits for lighter vehicles.


    1. The draft also proposes:

    • delay in application of the Directive generally until mid-2004 or shortly after and to vehicles used solely for national transport for a year longer;

    • ability of Member States to postpone for up to five years application to vehicles used solely for national transport which do not exceed 7.5 tonnes or which, if passenger-carrying vehicles with more than eight passengers, do not exceed five tonnes;

    • retro-fitting to be limited to vehicles complying with emission norms set out in the document EURO 3 and registered after 30 September 2001;

    • ability of Member States to require lower speed limits for devices fitted to vehicles transporting dangerous goods;

    • ability of Member States to use national standards in approving speed limitation devices until the date of application of the Directive; and

    • an obligation on the Commission, as part of the Road Safety Action Plan 2002-10, to assess the road safety and traffic implications for the lighter vehicles and to submit proposals as necessary.

The Government's view

    1. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Mr David Jamieson) tells us that the amended proposal was to have a second reading in the European Parliament in September. He reminds us that there are conflicting views in the UK on the value of the proposals. The Minister notes that there is some amelioration of the effect of the Directive as a result of the delays in its full application and the limitation on retro-fitting. But he repeats his earlier comments, of April 2002, that: "It is now unlikely that there will be any opportunity to address the Government's concerns any further" and that: "The Government believes that an opportunity has been lost to come to a sensible compromise on practices similar to the present UK requirements."
    2. Conclusion

    3. We note the limited changes in the Commission's proposals and the Government's continued objection to the scope of the proposed Directive. We clear the document. But we remind the Minister of our continuing wish to see research undertaken and published on the effect in the UK of using speed limiters on heavy goods vehicles, especially given the high incidence of speeding by heavy goods vehicles and the lack of any consensus among interested parties.


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