Car Imports: Commission tackles red tape and extra costs
Publication date: 06 July 2005
The Commission has taken steps against Austria, Poland and France, because these Members States make the import of cars difficult. All three cases, which are at varying stages of the infringement procedure, constitute impediments to the free movement of goods. Austria requires unnecessary double checks of conformity prior to the importation of cars. Poland maintains obstacles to the registration of imported second hand cars while certain obstacles still exist in France concerning registration of imported vehicles.
Austria is already at the second stage of the infringement procedure. According to the Commission’s reasoned opinion, current legislation impedes the registration of imported cars. Under Austrian law, the European certificate of conformity (as set out in Directive 70/156/EEC), which is meant to facilitate cross-border car registration, is checked again for conformity by Austrian authorities. Austria will now have two months to make the necessary changes to end violations of both the directive and the principle of free movement of goods (Art. 28-30 EC Treaty).
The Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to Poland requesting information concerning obstacles to the registration of imported second hand cars. The Commission has received many complaints about the Polish legislation which appears to impose stricter conditions on the registration of imported second hand cars than on the re-registration of domestic cars. The Commission considers the Polish legislation may constitute a disproportionate barrier to the free movement of second hand cars from other Member States, in violation of the Internal Market rules (Articles 28 to 30 of the EC Treaty) for the following reasons:
- the issue of the vehicle card is subject to a fee applicable in practice only to imported used cars,
- registration costs are higher than those for the re-registration of cars already in circulation in Poland,
- mandatory and burdensome technical controls are required only on imported used cars on their first registration in Poland and
- a costly certificate proving payment of TVA or exoneration from TVA is required on registration.
Due to Commission intervention, France has changed some parts of its legislation in order to comply with European law. However, more changes are needed, since the French procedure of registration of vehicles previously registered in another Member State still does not fully comply with directives 70/156/EEC, 1999/37/EC and Article 28 EC Treaty. That’s why the Commission sent a complementary letter of formal notice to the French authorities.