Retained under scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Transport Committee
Proposal for a Council Decision on the position to be adopted on behalf of the European Union in the relevant Committees of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe as regards the proposals for amendments to UN Regulations Nos 12, 14, 16, 17, 43, 44, 46, 48, 49, 110, 121, 129 and 134, to UN Global Technical Regulations Nos 6 and 15, to the Rules of Procedure of WP.29 and to the General Guidelines for UN regulatory procedures and transitional provisions in UN Regulations, and as regards proposals for three new UN Regulations, one new UN Global Technical Regulation and a proposal for a new Mutual Resolution
Article 114 TFEU in conjunction with Article 218(9); QMV
(39142), 13120/17 + ADD 1, COM(17) 602
7.1The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, also known as Working Party 29 (WP.29), is a regulatory forum which seeks to reduce technical barriers to trade. UNECE Rules, Regulations and Global Technical Regulations are agreed on a quarterly basis at WP.29.
7.2The EU and its Member States, which are members of UNECE, have a shared competence in this policy area, as a result of which the Commission delivers the collective Member States’ voting position on UNECE proposals. This position is formulated in advance in the Council of Ministers on a qualified majority voting basis.
7.3On 19 October 2017 the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Decision on the position to be adopted on behalf of the EU in the UNECE Administrative Committee in November, regarding a number of new Regulations and Global Technical Regulations, as well as amendments to existing rules. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (Jesse Norman) subsequently submitted an Explanatory Memorandum to the Committee on 15 October 2017, seeking clearance to support the proposal.
7.4The Minister explains that the proposals consist of some minor technical changes to UN regulatory procedures and provisions; new UNECE Regulations on Automatic Emergency Call Systems, Electric Vehicles and the Mutual Resolution on Vehicle Interior Air Quality, which will, in the Minister’s assessment, reduce technical barriers to trade; and a proposed Global Technical Regulation (GTR) on International Whole Vehicle Type Approval, which is intended to bring harmonisation between the major blocs of EU and Japan.
7.5The Minister states that the Government is content with the changes to be brought about as a result of the proposed EU Decision. He says that it is well-established that the EU signs up to UNECE and Global Technical Regulations as a body in order to maximise the benefits of harmonisation.
7.6This proposal was considered by the Council of Ministers on 6 November. As the newly appointed European Scrutiny Committee had not met at this time and was therefore unable to consider the Government’s Explanatory Memorandum before the meeting of the Council on 6 November, the Government abstained, to avoid overriding the scrutiny reserve. The UNECE Administrative Committee voted to adopt the proposed changes on 14 November 2017.
7.7Regarding the implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Government observes that “After the UK has left the EU, our participation in the UNECE will continue, as our UNECE membership is independent of our EU membership, despite the need to collaborate whilst we are EU members.” The Government does not provide an analysis of the implications for UK stakeholders of a shift from the current EU Single Market regime for type-approvals, under which the UK Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) can issue European approvals, to that of a ‘third country’. This is understandable in the context of the proposal; however, a rounded appraisal of the implications of Brexit for type-approval processes and the UK automotive sector requires that the issues be considered together.
7.8We note the Government’s support for the proposed package of changes to UNECE rules, Regulations and Global Technical Regulations (GTRs), which will reduce technical barriers to trade globally and maximise the benefits of harmonisation. The Decision was adopted by the Council on 6 November 2017, and the Government abstained in order to avoid a scrutiny override.
7.9When the UK withdraws from the EU, its membership of UNECE will be unaffected and it will deliver its own vote, as opposed to the current position where the UK vote forms part of the collective portion formulated by the EU (in the Council on a Qualified majority voting basis).
7.10To accurately appraise the implications of withdrawal from the European Union in this policy area, the Committee considers that a fuller account of regulatory harmonisation at both UNECE and EU level, and their interaction, is necessary. We therefore request that the Government provide us with a detailed briefing on:
7.11Currently, the UK type-approval authority—the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA)—checks many motor vehicles before they are placed on the EU market to ensure they meet relevant standards. The UK’s departure from the European Single Market will in principle result in the EU Regulation on type approval no longer applying to the United Kingdom, meaning that type-approval certificates issued by the VCA would no longer be valid in the EU27, and that UK-based manufacturers would have to use other European approval authorities. We ask the Government:
7.12To allow the preparation of a thorough response, we give the Government until 7 February to respond—a period of approximately two months. In the meantime we retain this proposal under scrutiny and draw it to the attention of the Transport Committee.
Proposal for a Council Decision on the position to be adopted on behalf of the European Union in the relevant Committees of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe as regards the proposals for amendments to UN Regulations Nos 12, 14, 16, 17, 43, 44, 46, 48, 49, 110, 121, 129 and 134, to UN Global Technical Regulations Nos 6 and 15, to the Rules of Procedure of WP.29 and to the General Guidelines for UN regulatory procedures and transitional provisions in UN Regulations, and as regards proposals for three new UN Regulations, one new UN Global Technical Regulation and a proposal for a new Mutual Resolution (39142), 13120/17, COM (17) 602.
7.13Vehicles which are sold and put into service in a country have to meet the regulations and standards of that country. The registration procedure of that country requires the approval of the vehicle and/or its components. The existence of separate national regulations and approval procedures in the different countries requires expensive design modifications, additional tests and duplicating approvals. Thus, there is the need to harmonize the different national technical requirements for vehicles and to elaborate a unique international regulation. Once the vehicle or its equipment and parts are manufactured and approved according to that regulation, they can be internationally traded without further tests or approvals. These regulations have to be continuously adapted to the technical progress and to the new requirements regarding safety and environmental protection.
7.14In order to reduce international trade barriers and to promote the global trade of vehicles and their components, efforts are being made to have harmonized vehicle regulations worldwide. The major forum for this role is the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Two international agreements provide the basis for much of this activity.
7.15The UNECE 1958 Agreement, revised in 1995 (“the Revised 1958 Agreement”) was put in place to assist industry by removing technical barriers to trade within Europe. The Agreement:
7.16The 1958 Agreement operates on the principles of type approval and reciprocal recognition. If a component is type approved according to a UN Regulation by any of the Contracting Parties to the 1958 Agreement, all other Contracting Parties who have signed the same Regulation will recognize this approval. This avoids repetitive testing and approval of components in various countries in which the latter are exported. This helps to reduce the time and costs of design, manufacture and approval as well as the entering into service of vehicles and their components. This harmonisation of standards opens wider global markets to manufacturers and reduces development and production costs.
7.17A UN Regulation in force is legally binding on all those Contracting Parties which signed the same Regulation.
7.18There are over 100 UNECE Regulations covering various aspects of vehicle construction which have been developed under the 1958 Agreement. As of 2016, there were 62 signatories to the agreement, including non-EU UNECE members such as Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Tunisia, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia.
7.19In 1998, the 1958 Agreement was supplemented by the 1998 Agreement. This Agreement was aimed at facilitating easier trade between the principal global regions of USA, EU and Japan while recognising the growing markets for new vehicles of China and India.
7.20The 1998 agreement establishes a process through which countries from all regions of the world can jointly develop UN Global Technical Regulations (UN GTRs) for vehicles and their components. GTRs do not provide for mutual recognition of type approvals. Contracting Parties to the 1998 Agreement can adopt any UN GTR in which they are interested, but are not obliged to do so.
7.21The 1998 Agreement currently has 33 Contracting Parties and 14 UN GTRs that have been established into the UN Global Registry.
7.22UNECE Regulations and Global Technical Regulations are agreed in technical working groups, and then enacted at the political level by WP.29.
7.23WP.29 predates the EU. However the EU and the Member States have shared competence arrangements in the work of the vehicle sector of the UNECE. The Lisbon Treaty sets out procedures on the interaction of the EU with international organisations and agreements and affects the specific rules covering EU participation in both international agreements on motor vehicles.
7.24All EU Member States are part of UNECE and WP.29, and all EU Member States individually present their own positions at a technical level. However, the Commission presents the Council’s technical position and also delivers the collective Member States’ voting position, which is formulated in the Council on a qualified majority voting basis.
7.25The EU and Member States must accept approvals in line with the latest updates (amendments) to the UNECE Regulations, to which they are party. But the question of whether to make the latest amendment compulsory for new vehicles in the EU is considered separately by the Commission and Member States—it does not happen automatically.
7.26The European approval scheme is based on the concept of ‘type approval’, which provides a mechanism for ensuring that vehicles meet relevant environmental, safety and security standards. As it is not practical to test every single vehicle made, one production vehicle is tested as being representative of the ‘type’. A number of performance requirements will apply to a given vehicle type ranging from tyres through to exhaust emissions and braking systems. To ensure a consistent approach, the test methodology is outlined in relevant rules and the tests are carried out at an appropriate facility.
7.27Within the EU, Directive 2007/46 sets out the safety and environmental requirements that motor vehicles have to comply with before being placed on the EU market. The Directive makes the European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (EU-WVTA) system mandatory for all categories of motor vehicles and their trailers. A large number of UNECE regulations are also made mandatory by the Directive.
7.28Approval authorities are established or appointed by EU countries and notified to the Commission. The approval authorities have competence for:
7.29The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) is the UK type approval authority. It checks many motor vehicles before they are placed on the EU market to ensure they meet relevant standards. These vehicles do not need to be checked by local type approval authorities elsewhere in the EU, avoiding unnecessary duplication.
7.30A certificate of conformity is a statement by the manufacturer that the vehicle conforms to EU type approval requirements. EU countries cannot refuse to register vehicles if they are accompanied by a valid CoC that proves their compliance with EU law. The Commission has proposed simpler rules for the motor vehicle registration of a car already registered on one EU country to be registered in another.
7.31A technical service is an organisation or a body designated by the national approval authority as:
7.32The proposal defines the Union’s position in the voting on:
7.33On 24 October 2017 the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (Jesse Norman) submitted an Explanatory Memorandum to the House. The Minister indicates that the Government “is content with the changes to be brought about as a result of the proposed EU Decision”, and, states that it is well-established that the EU signs up to UNECE and Global Technical Regulations “to maximise the benefits of harmonisation”.
7.34Summarising the overall impact of the proposed changes, the Minister clarifies that:
7.35In relation to the individual proposals, the Minister states that:
“if [the Regulation] is widely accepted outside those blocs, it will help European manufacturers by permitting them to sell around the globe using approvals issued by their local approval authority, without needing to engage with overseas authorities.”; and
7.36The Minister states that “After the UK has left the EU, our participation in the UNECE will continue, as our UNECE membership is independent of our EU membership, despite the need to collaborate whilst we are EU members”.
47 Proposal for a Council Decision on the position to be adopted on behalf of the European Union in the relevant Committees of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe 13120/17, COM (17)602
48 Explanatory Memorandum 13120/17
49 Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 September 2007 establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles (Framework Directive) .
50 Proposal for a Council Decision on the position to be adopted on behalf of the European Union in the relevant Committees of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe 13120/17, COM (17)602
51 Explanatory Memorandum 13120/17
11 December 2017