52004SC1067

Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to negotiate the conditions for Community accession to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) Agreement concerning the Adoption of Uniform Conditions for Periodical Technical Inspections of Wheeled Vehicles and the Reciprocal Recognition of Such Inspections (Done at Vienna on 13 November 1997) {SEC(2004)1056} /* SEC/2004/1067 final */


Recommendation for a COUNCIL DECISION authorising the Commission to negotiate the conditions for Community accession to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) Agreement concerning the Adoption of Uniform Conditions for Periodical Technical Inspections of Wheeled Vehicles and the Reciprocal Recognition of Such Inspections (Done at Vienna on 13 November 1997) {SEC(2004)1056}

(presented by the Commission)

1. Background

The UN-ECE 1958 Agreement on the technical requirements of wheeled vehicles, to which the Community acceded on 24 March 1998, was designed to develop uniform technical prescriptions for the construction and type-approval of new vehicles. The UN-ECE 1997 Vehicle Inspection Agreement objective is to establish Rules for periodical technical inspections of wheeled vehicles registered or taken into service in the territory of the Agreement's Contracting Parties.

The Vehicle Inspection Agreement areas of competence are all the subject of Community action. They fall within the scope of Council Directive 96/96/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers, as amended by Directive 2001/11/EC (testing of commercial vehicles speed limitation device) and Directive 2003/27/EC (testing of exhaust emissions from motor vehicles). These directives specify minimum requirements and some Member States go beyond these.

Seven States have so far acceded to the Vehicle Inspection Agreement: Estonia, the Netherlands, Finland, Hungary, Romania, the Russian Federation and Bulgaria. Article 4 of the 1997 agreement provides that accession to the Vehicle Inspection Agreement is open to Regional Economic Integration Organisations, to which its Member States have transferred powers in the fields covered by the Agreement, including the power to make binding decisions on their Member States, an explicit reference to the Community. All other things being equal, accession of the EU to the Vehicle Inspection Agreement will give the Community 25 votes out of a total of 28.

2. Exercise of powers in the domain of vehicle inspection for roadworthiness

The 1997 Vehicle Inspection Agreement falls within the remit of UN-ECE Working Party 29, a subsidiary body of the UN-ECE Inland Transport Committee, which is also in charge of managing the 1958 Agreement on the Construction of Vehicles.

3. Negotiation

Some clauses of the Vehicle Inspection Agreement need adaptation or clarification in order to comply with European legislation.

Most importantly two aspects need to be adapted or clarified: Article 1 and Article 12 should be amended in order to clarify the concept of reciprocal recognition of roadworthiness certification so as to limit its scope to providing free movement to vehicles across the EU territory. The Vehicle Inspection Agreement should not enable a vehicle to be granted a roadworthiness certificate other than in the Contracting Party where it is registered unless there is a bilateral agreement between the Contracting Parties where the vehicle is registered and where it is tested.

There are also detailed technical points in the Agreement's Rule No. 1 that would need to be changed, i.e. deletion of the test requirements concerning air conditioning and refrigeration systems, at least until such time that acceptable testing methods can be developed and approved.

In fact some of the modifications required to make the Vehicle Inspection Agreement fully compliant with the European legislation are already in the process of being implemented. During the negotiations and at the accession, the Commission will declare that it will not apply the clauses of the Agreement which are not fully compliant with the European legislation (see negotiating directives in Annex). Where necessary, minor modifications can be done after the Community's accession to the Agreement. The votes the Community will command within WP.29 will put it in a position to strongly influence the future developments.

It is essential that the Community accedes to the Vehicle Inspection Agreement in order to ensure coherence from a Community perspective between roadworthiness testing standards and type approval, both within the remit of UN-ECE WP.29.

In light of the above, the Commission recommends to the Council that it authorises the Commission:

- to negotiate an agreement for the Community's accession to the Vehicle Inspection Agreement as soon as possible;

- to conduct the negotiations in consultation with a special advisory committee designated by the Council, in conformity with the negotiating directives in the annex.

ANNEX Negotiating directives

1. The objective of the negotiations is to enable the European Community to accede to the UN-ECE Vehicle Inspection Agreement as soon as possible.

2. During the negotiations, the Commission must in particular:

- ensure that, in areas where competence lies with the Community, the Community will vote with the number of votes of its Member States being members of the Economic Commission for Europe, in application of Article 4(1) of the Vehicle Inspection Agreement;

- declare in accordance with Article 2(4) of the Vehicle Inspection Agreement that the Community will not apply

- the provision of Article 1 relative to the reciprocal recognition (the term used in Community law is mutual recognition) of the inspections carried out by its Member States;

- Article 12 of the Vehicle Inspection Agreement on the bilateral agreement as a prior condition to technical inspections carried out by technical inspection bodies on behalf of an other Member State; and

- Rule No. 1 on the uniform proc-visions for periodical technical inspections of wheeled vehicles with regard to the protection of the environment;

as long as they are not fully compliant with the Community legislation.

- stipulate that the Community reserves the right to declare at any time, in conformity with Article 2(2) of the Vehicle Inspection Agreement, that it will not apply (a) certain Rule(s) annexed to this Agreement;

- declare that it does not consider itself bound by Article (8) of the Vehicle Inspection Agreement relative to the arbitration of disputes between two or more Contracting Parties.