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Document 52002AE0512

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the "Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the type-approval of mirrors and supplementary systems for indirect vision and of vehicles equipped with these devices and amending Directive 70/156/EEC" (COM(2001) 811 final — 2001/0317 (COD))

OJ C 149, 21.6.2002, p. 5–6 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

52002AE0512

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the "Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the type-approval of mirrors and supplementary systems for indirect vision and of vehicles equipped with these devices and amending Directive 70/156/EEC" (COM(2001) 811 final — 2001/0317 (COD))

Official Journal C 149 , 21/06/2002 P. 0005 - 0006


Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the "Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the type-approval of mirrors and supplementary systems for indirect vision and of vehicles equipped with these devices and amending Directive 70/156/EEC"

(COM(2001) 811 final - 2001/0317 (COD))

(2002/C 149/02)

On 21 March 2002 the Council decided to consult the Economic and Social Committee, under Article 95 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the above-mentioned proposal.

The Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 8 April 2002. The rapporteur was Mr Colombo.

At its 390th plenary session (meeting of 24 April 2002), the Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 94 votes to none with two abstentions.

1. Content of the proposal

1.1. The purpose of the draft directive is to introduce harmonised requirements for rear-view mirrors and supplementary systems for vehicles of categories M (vehicles for the carriage of passengers) and N (vehicles for the carriage of goods).

1.2. The proposal amends and replaces Directive 71/127/EEC(1) of 1 March 1971, adopted as one of the separate directives under the EC type-approval procedure established by Directive 70/156/EEC(2) on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the type-approval of motor vehicles and their trailers.

1.3. Article 95 of the EC Treaty is the legal basis. While partly maintaining the original structure of Directive 71/127/EEC, its content is altered significantly.

1.4. The proposal sets out to reduce the risks arising from incomplete vision to the side and rear of the vehicle, by increasing the field of vision through innovative vehicle component features and the introduction of new technologies. The aim is to improve the safety of road users.

1.5. The most significant aspect is to make the type-approval system under Directive 71/127/EC mandatory rather than voluntary for all light and heavy vehicles covered by the modification.

2. Objectives of the proposal

2.1. The aim is clearly to harmonise the various approaches adopted by individual Member States and to introduce uniform requirements applicable throughout the European Union. It is therefore proposed to repeal Directive 71/127/EEC two years after the draft directive comes into force.

2.2. The main areas of change, other than making the directive mandatory, are the mounting of additional mirrors and modification of certain of their characteristics in order to extend the field of indirect vision, together with the possibility of replacing current mirrors with camera/monitor systems.

3. General comments

3.1. In assessing the text proposed by the Commission, the Committee's starting point has been that the safety issue prevails over possible problems in implementing the planned new elements.

3.1.1. The Committee supports the general thrust of the proposal: it has always welcomed legislative measures to improve safety standards which, as well as protecting vehicles, focus specifically on the safety of the most vulnerable users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, etc.).

3.1.2. The Committee considers that although it entails some technical problems, which will be discussed in the general and specific comments below, the shift from the "voluntary" arrangements under Directive 71/127/EEC to the "mandatory" approach under the present proposal is an important factor for progressive harmonisation of the requirements governing type-approval systems.

3.1.3. Full implementation of the proposal will introduce into the EU mandatory requirements and quality standards for indirect vision systems for motor vehicles of categories M and N. This comes in advance of the framework directive on the entire field of goods vehicles, currently under discussion by the Commission, which should do away with the arrangements under which the Member States are entitled to maintain their own regulations.

3.1.4. The Committee regrets that the draft proposal's economic evaluation is incomplete, in that there is no mention of the necessary impact assessment regarding the introduction of additional mirrors.

4. Specific comments

4.1. Implementation deadlines

4.1.1. For the reasons set out above, the Committee is concerned that the planned dates for implementing the proposal may be too tight, failing to allow for the technical difficulties which vary in line with the complexity of the devices which are to be fitted.

4.1.2. More specifically, while the timescales laid down in Article 2(1) and (2) seem appropriate, the implementation deadline for newly-registered vehicles (first registration) under Article 2(3) could be too tight.

5. Annex II - aspherical mirrors

5.1. Points 3.1 and 3.3.3 of Annex II stipulate that an additional aspherical mirror must be fitted to the driver and passenger sides of M1 and N1 category vehicles in order to eliminate blind spots.

5.2. The Committee realises that seeking to eliminate this negative factor may involve some technical difficulties relating, for example, to distorted vision, but welcomes the general introduction of all devices which can provide greater safety.

5.3. The Committee believes that the difficulty in using aspherical mirrors hinges largely upon the need for users to adapt to them. Adaptation will however be facilitated by the process of compulsory and universal uniformisation of such devices.

5.4. The Committee hopes that the safety systems set out in the directive will also be fitted to vehicles which are not subject to Community legislation, but which use roads within the Union's territory.

6. Annex III - applicability to vehicles of category M1

6.1. The new fields for main rear-view mirrors Class III, set out in point 5.3 of Annex III, require road-level vision for mirrors on both the driver's and the passenger's side of four metres from the ocular points.

6.2. While the Committee acknowledges that obtaining this field of vision will require increasing mirror size, with some loss of aerodynamic performance, it nevertheless favours the introduction of such devices, which it considers to represent a significant factor in increasing the safety of the most vulnerable road users.

7. Conclusions

7.1. The Committee supports and approves the general thrust of the proposal, subject to the comments made. It also hopes that the planned framework directive on type-approval of goods vehicles will come into being soon, providing a key element at Community level for type-approvals in the sector.

Brussels, 24 April 2002.

The President

of the Economic and Social Committee

Göke Frerichs

(1) OJ L 68, 1.3.1971.

(2) OJ L 42, 23.2.1970.

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