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Global technical harmonisation of vehicles

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Global technical harmonisation of vehicles

The worldwide technical harmonisation of vehicles is governed by two international agreements to which the European Union is a contracting party. These agreements establish harmonised requirements at global level to ensure high levels of safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency and protection against theft.

ACTS

Council Decision 97/836/EC with a view to accession by the European Community to the Agreement of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe concerning the adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted to and/or be used on wheeled vehicles and the conditions for reciprocal recognition of approvals granted on the basis of these prescriptions (Revised 1958 Agreement) .

Council Decision 2000/125/EC concerning the conclusion of the Agreement concerning the establishing of global technical regulations for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted and/or be used on wheeled vehicles (Parallel Agreement).

SUMMARY

In order to further the mutual recognition of vehicle approvals based on harmonised technical provisions and thus reduce barriers to free trade, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has established an agreement on the technical harmonisation of vehicles, known as the 1958 Agreement. The European Union became a contracting party to this agreement on 24 March 1998.

The EU also played an active part in negotiating a second international agreement, known as theparallel agreementof 1998, which entered into force on 25 August 2000. This agreement has the special feature that it encompasses certain countries which cannot assume the obligation of mutual recognition as provided for in the 1958 agreement.

The conclusion of these two agreements contributes to the objectives of the common commercial policy: they contribute to eliminating the existing technical barriers to trade in vehicles and vehicle equipment and parts and preventing the appearance of new barriers. The involvement of the European Union allows the harmonisation work already undertaken to be maintained and facilitates access to third-country markets.

The 1958 Agreement

Under the 1958 Agreement, a contracting party that is applying one or more of the UN Regulations annexed to the Agreement is entitled to grant type approvals for the vehicles, vehicle equipment and parts covered by those Regulations, and has to mutually accept the type approvals granted by any other contracting party applying the same Regulations. To date, more than 130 Regulations have been established under this Agreement.

The 1958 Agreement has 54 contracting parties. Under the terms of the Agreement, new Regulations and amendments to Regulations in force are adopted if they receive two thirds of the votes cast by the contracting parties present. A new Regulation comes into force for all contracting parties that have not notified their disagreement within six months of notification, unless more than a third of the contracting parties enter objections, in which case the Regulation does not come into force.

Mutual recognition of type approvals between the contracting parties that apply the Regulations is facilitating trade in vehicles throughout Europe and on the global market.

The parallel 1998 Agreement

Unlike the 1958 Agreement, the parallel Agreement does not contain any provisions on the mutual recognition of type approvals, which allows countries not able to assume the obligations of mutual recognition to play a concrete part in the harmonisation of global technical regulations.

The 1998 Agreement has 33 contracting parties. To date, 14 Global Technical Regulations have been established under this Agreement.

For the preparation of new global technical regulations, the agreement provides for two different approaches. The first consists in harmonising existing regulations or standards applied by contracting parties, while the second involves drawing up new global technical regulations where there have not previously been any.

The agreement provides for existing regulations of the contracting parties that could be harmonised to be listed in a Compendium of candidate global technical regulations in order to make it easier to transform them into global regulations. A regulation is added to the compendium if it is supported by at least one third of the votes cast by the contracting parties present, including a vote of the European Union, Japan and the United States.

The fact that a global technical regulation has been established does not oblige the contracting parties to give it legal force in their domestic legislation. On the other hand, the contracting parties must notify their decision on whether to adopt a global technical regulation and the effective date from which it will apply. Furthermore, every contracting party that votes in favour of the establishment of a technical regulation is required to submit the regulation to the process it uses to give such regulations legal force.

The European Commission carries out all the necessary procedures on behalf of the EU, including:

  • the adoption and notification of global technical regulations;
  • participation in resolving disputes;
  • amending the Agreement.

Council Decisions 2013/454/EU and 2013/456/EU amend the Decisions governing the two agreements to take into account changes in procedures to be followed for the conclusion of agreements between the EU and international organisations following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Decision 97/836/EC

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OJ L 346 of 17.12.1997

Council Decision 2000/125/EC

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OJ L 35 of 10.02.2000

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Decision 2013/456/EU

17.9.2013

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OJ L 245 of 14.9.2013

Council Decision 2013/454/EU

17.9.2013

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OJ L 245 of 14.9.2013

Last updated: 19.05.2014

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