Answer to written question on Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations
Publication date: 10 July 2009
Subject: Answer to written question by Graham Watson (ALDE) to the Commission on Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations
WRITTEN QUESTION by Graham Watson (ALDE) to the Commission
Subject: Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations
The European Commission is currently in the process of reformulating Regulation (EC) No 1400/2002(1) concerning Motor Vehicle Distribution and Servicing (MVBER).The Commission’s evaluation report concludes that although competition in the automotive industry has been stimulated to a degree, many provisions in the Block Exemption Regulations have proven ineffective, irrelevant or sometimes even counterproductive.
There lies an implicit message in Commission communications that many of the measures in MVBER will be scrapped, but that the overall goal of improving competition in the sector will be served by a patchwork of other legislation. Can the Commission therefore confirm that this will continue to provide the immediate and effective protection independent after-market operators require?
In the UK, there are more independent repairers than franchised dealers and they often charge half the hourly rate of franchised dealers, offering a local and affordable service. This not only provides a valuable service to consumers and the environment, but also accounts for thousands of jobs. Can the Commission confirm that whatever changes are made to MVBER, there will be clear legal protection for independent garages and repairers to access the tools, parts and information that they need to conduct repairs?
(1) OJ L 203, 1.8.2002, p. 30.
Answer given by Mrs Kroes on behalf of the Commission
The Commission would agree with the Honourable Member that independent garages provide motorists with a valuable, and often cheaper, alternative to the authorised networks, and that they also provide employment to large numbers of European citizens. As regards the ongoing review of Regulation 1400/2002, any future competition framework for the motor vehicle sector must clearly ensure that the Commission can act when barriers are put in the way of independent repairers accessing tools, parts, and technical information.
One of the questions being analysed as part of the review of Regulation 1400/2002, in the light of the positive and negative impacts of the regulation identified in the Commission's Evaluation Report of May 2008, is what is the most effective means of ensuring a level playing field between authorised and independent repairers, to the benefit of the European consumer.
The Commission's determination to ensure that competition is not impeded to the detriment of independent repairers and consumers can be gauged by the formal decisions that it adopted in four cases in 2007 (Daimler Benz, Fiat, GM and Toyota), with a view to ensuring that independent repairers have access to technical information. The Commission would like to assure the Honourable Member that any future competition framework replacing Regulation 1400/2002 will not affect the Commission's ability or indeed willingness to take similarly robust action in the future.
 Commission Regulation (EC) No 1400/2002 of 31 July 2002 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices in the motor vehicle sector, OJ L 203, 1.8.2002.
 See http://ec.europa.eu/competition/sectors/motor_vehicles/documents/evaluation_report_en.pdf.
 See press release IP/07/1332 of 14/09/2007.