Documents considered by the Committee on 12 September 2018 Contents

32UNECE Vehicle type approvals

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny

Document details

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

Legal base

Article 114 TFEU in conjunction with Article 218(9); QMV

Department

Transport

Document Number

(39142), 13120/17 + ADD 1, COM (17) 602

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

32.1In the context of the UK’s approaching departure from the European Union, the Committee has been considering the significance of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, also known as Working Party 29 (WP29), for UK vehicle and component manufacturers. To this end, the Committee decided to hold draft Council Decision (13120/17),344 to establish the EU position in the Committees of UNECE for a quarterly ‘mega-decision’, even though the Decision had been unexpectedly adopted by the Council on 6 November 2017 and the legislative procedure has already concluded.

32.2In its first report,345 the Committee asked the Government to provide a detailed overview of UNECE activity with respect to harmonisation of vehicle standards and its interaction with the EU. The Minister (Jesse Norman) has since responded to the Committee’s questions at length, providing, as requested, a thorough overview of regulatory harmonisation at both UNECE and EU level, which is now available on the Department for Exiting the European Union’s website for European Memoranda.346 The key points of the Minister’s response are incorporated into our conclusions, below.

32.3Additional points of interest from the Minister’s response include that:

The Minister does not regard EU influence on UNECE as problematic, as (he states) “at present we largely agree with the EU positions and in the short to medium term we do not anticipate significant divergence.” The Minister adds that the UK is “a well-respected member of the UNECE, chairs two important working groups and is respected for its expert contributions” and expects that “the high level of influence we currently enjoy will not diminish.”

32.4We thank the Minister for his exemplary, detailed response to the Committee’s questions about the implications of EU exit for UK involvement in the World Forum Working Party 29 (WP29) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), of which we have taken note. The Minister reiterates that the Government intends the UK to remain a contracting party to UN Regulations and Global Technical Regulations when it exits the EU, due to the benefits of international regulatory harmonisation in reducing barriers to trade.

32.5In terms of EU exit, the most relevant aspect of the UNECE regulatory framework for vehicle harmonisation are the UN Regulations annexed to the 1958 Agreement, which legally bind the contracting parties to accept approvals of vehicle systems, parts and equipment issued by other contracting Parties where harmonisation has occurred (an arrangement which, we note, does not constitute mutual recognition of divergent national standards).348 When the UK is no longer an EU Member State and any transitional arrangements have ended, UN Regulations will permit continued recognition of UK Vehicle Certification Agency issued type-approvals for most vehicle components; however, this will not be the case for VCA-issued whole vehicle type-approvals, meaning that manufacturers will have to go through the EU Whole Vehicle Type-Approval System before placing vehicles on the EU market.

32.6It is possible that in the future more ambitious arrangements on whole vehicle type approvals will be agreed through UNECE, which could effectively allow UK-approved vehicles to be marketed in the EU without going through its type-approval system: the UN Regulation349 on International Whole Vehicle Type Approval (IWVTA),350 which was adopted in 2017, provides a framework within which such developments could take place. However, in its current form the IWVTA is only a ‘partial’ whole vehicle type approval scheme, meaning that Contracting Parties can still require compliance with additional technical requirements on subjects which are not covered before allowing vehicles to be registered in their market. The Minister notes that 35% of the EU type approval framework for passenger cars (category M1) are “EU-only” and not covered by UN Regulations. Consequently, the IWVTA does not currently provide any additional access for whole vehicle type-approvals issued in the UK.

32.7Although the Minister anticipates that the development of the IWVTA will expand the range of subjects covered, he acknowledges that the “aspiration” to cover all relevant subjects “is unlikely to be achieved in the next 5 years”. Given the slow pace of progress to date,351 and the challenging nature of achieving harmonisation of certain issues—notably, masses and dimensions—it appears clear that the IWVTA will develop incrementally on timescales that are significantly longer than those related to EU exit.

32.8We now clear this document from scrutiny, noting that the Committee retains under scrutiny the Commission’s proposed Regulation (9716/18) relating to EU type-approval legislation with regard to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union.

Full details of the documents

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 + ADD 1, COM (17) 602.

Previous Committee Reports

Fourth Report HC 301–iv (2017–19) chapter 7 (6 December 2017).


344 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 13120/17.

345 Fourth Report HC 301–iv (2017–19) chapter 7 (6 December 2017).

346 Letter from the Minister to the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee (6 February 2018).

347 HM Government, PM speech on our future economic partnership with the European Union (2 March 2018).

348 Although this arrangement is frequently described as ‘mutual recognition’—including by UNECE itself—it is a form of regulatory harmonisation, under which there is reciprocal recognition by participating countries of type-approvals which comply with harmonised international standards. It does not constitute mutual recognition of divergent national regulatory standards.

349 Regulation No 0 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UNECE)—Uniform provisions concerning the International Whole Vehicle Type Approval (IWVTA) (2018/780).

350 For more information on the IWVTA, see this FAQ from the IWVTA Informal Group. Also see this article by InterRegs (March 2018).

351 The Minister observes that the IWVTA project was launched by WP.29 in March 2010. Richard North has noted that the concept was previously introduced to WP.29 in November 2007.




Published: 18 September 2018