9th January 2010 Mme Françoise Le Bail SME Envoy and Deputy Director-General Enterprise and Industry

DG Rue de la Loi 200 B 1049 Brussels Belgium
FROM THE AMERICAN IMPORT AGENTS ASSOCIATION 57-63 Coburg Road, Wood Green, London N22 6UB, United Kingdom Re- Draft Proposal for Harmonised Individual Vehicle Approval

“The Small Business Act for Europe is the commission’s ambitious plan to address the needs of Europe’s small and medium-sized businesses. It takes into account the diversity of Europe’s entrepreneurial spirit and includes guidance on how to develop SME policy at EU and national level.”

Françoise Le Bail’s comments before European SME Week in May 2009

Dear Mme. Le Bail, On behalf of the American Import Agents Association (AIAA), whose member businesses are involved in the importation of new American vehicles into the UK, we are writing to ask for your urgent support to prevent the adoption of a new draft Harmonised Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) proposal that will undermine consumer choice and decimate a longstanding industry of over 1000 micro-SME’s across the 27 Member States of Europe. These are typically family businesses employing 2-6 people. More than 95% of these tiny independent businesses are generally unrepresented by any trade body. As there has been no SME Consultation, and no Regulatory Impact Assessment, the Commission has ignored its legal obligations. These businesses are completely unaware that they may be destroyed by this discriminatory and protectionist legislation. To make matters even worse, this is all happening at a time when Europe is in recession and unemployment is rising. How can you permit the Automotive Unit in the Commission to act in this way? By failing to apply the principles of Better Regulation, the Automotive Unit has been unduly influenced by the voice of big business, as illustrated here by a press release from the FIA and has ignored many key legal obligations and policy guidelines outlined in the Small Business Act of Europe. Aside from the procedural failings of the Automotive Unit, these regulations are completely unnecessary and disproportionate for the technical approval of individual vehicles imported in low volume by SME’s and private individuals. Indeed, the Automotive Unit has already stated in the Minutes of the last TCMV meeting that the UK felt that on the grounds of subsidiarity this proposal is not necessary and the problems which exist should be solved at the national level. 1

Under Article 24 of the new Framework Directive 2007/46/EC that came into effect on April 29 th 2009, Member States are already obliged to provide administrative provisions and technical requirements which aim to ensure a level of road safety and environmental protection, which is “equivalent to the greatest extent practicable” to the level provided for by the provisions of the European Type Approval standards. For micro-businesses to function, and when there have been no safety and environmental problems with American vehicles, compliance with a technical benchmark of approval “to the greatest extent practicable” is by definition, the limit of reasonableness and proportionality. Just one technical standard that is either too expensive or physically impossible to comply with, will ban a vehicle. Please be aware, these regulations are only being applied to new vehicles that have been registered abroad for less than 6 months, illustrating the anti-competitive and discriminatory nature of this proposal. If the principle of subsidiarity applies to vehicles over 6 months old, why should it not apply to new vehicles? As the new Framework Directive 2007/46/EC took nearly three years to become law, there was extensive consultation with SME’s and Regulatory Impact Assessments were carried out. Attached is the UK Regulatory Impact Assessment. Indeed, the British Government demonstrated how they had listened to the voice of micro-businesses by publicising this achievement on page 36 of a document entitled Summary of Simplification Plans 2009, introduced by a statement from the Prime Minister. Why is the Automotive Unit ignoring this? We understand and respect that the Motor Industry in Europe is driven by the largest businesses and organisations and that as a result, automotive standards for vehicle manufacturers are regulated by the Commission. However, we are sure that under your work portfolio as the Envoy of SME’s, the Automotive Unit cannot be permitted to be unaccountable or exempt from ensuring that proportionate regulations, procedures and legal obligations are afforded to micro-businesses that are not manufacturers. We have a meeting planned with the officials in the Automotive Unit on the 18th January. In order to avoid the need to escalate this issue widely across the European media and elsewhere, please can your services treat this matter with the utmost priority? There is no safety or environmental issue with very low volumes of new American cars, imported into Europe for enthusiasts and built to the latest North American standards. There is no convincing reason why the principle of subsidiarity should not apply as the Framework Directive 2007/46/EC already ensures that the approval of these vehicles is only obtained by demonstrating equivalence, “to the greatest extent practicable” with the European Type Approval Directives. If the Harmonised IVA proposal is not withdrawn and our representations continue to go unheeded by the Commission, what is the point of all these laws and policies that the Commission’s website explains so clearly? Yours truly, Anthony Cohen Chairman-American Import Agents Association Tel: +44 20 8889-4545 aiaa_eu@me.com


Cc -José Manuel Barroso –President of the European Commission -Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP-Prime Minister -Ms. Neelie Kroes-Commissioner for Competition -Malcolm Harbour-MEP -Lord Peter Mandelson-First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council -Juergen R. Thumann-Co Chairman-Transatlantic Business Dialogue -Sylvia Mohr-Automotive Commercial Attaché-US Mission to the European Union -Tina Sommer, President –European Small Business Alliance -Mark Spelman-Chairman American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union -Ian Yarnold-Deputy Head of Vehicle Technology and Standards Dft –UK -Mike Lowe-Senior Policy Advisor, Transport Technology and Standards DfT-UK -Harry Sanne-President European Association of Independent Vehicle Traders -Denise Lagercrantz-Consultant to BIRF Swedish Association of Vehicle Importers -Brian Osler-President North American Automobile Trade Association


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