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HomeNEWSINTERNATIONALVnuk rears its ugly head once more

Vnuk rears its ugly head once more

The European Commission (EC) has revived its attempt to impose onerous motor vehicle insurance requirements that would effectively wipe out motorcycle sport and also disrupt non-competitive leisure use of bikes on private property.

This proposal to amend Directive 2009/103/EC, first mooted in May 2018, was largely based on a notorious “Vnuk ruling” by the European Court of Justice, concerning a tractor accident on a private property. To all intents and purposes, its judgment concluded that there could be no difference between private and public properties as regards the obligations of insurance cover. The result would have been all riders on race tracks or other private land needing the same degree of cover as if they were on public roads — almost certainly unobtainable, even at a hugely higher cost.

Opposition to the EC’s move from European motorcycle industry body ACEM and the FIM and FIA motorsports organisations was led by the UK’s MCIA when it came before the European Parliament in September 2018. Fortunately, the “rapporteur” managing debate of the proposed legislative amendment, the Czech MEP Dita Charanzová, was sympathetic to the bike industry’s position. And parliamentarians eventually decided to limit the scope of the Directive in early 2019, excluding motorsport activities — despite intense EC counter-lobbying.

However, the European Council of Ministers representing EU member states has yet to endorse the decision and discussions have been unresolved. Although a majority of member states initially supported the parliamentary conclusions, some key members didn’t. And these have now apparently been joined by Spain and Italy, after further heavy EC lobbying during the summer. So the whole issue has been thrown wide open again.

Debate at Council level is set to resume in December. Should it back the EC view, a fierce conflict with Parliament will then ensue, especially because Charanzová — still a clear supporter of motorcycle sport — has recently been re-elected and will continue to lead negotiations on behalf of MEPs.    



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