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Regulatory framework for type-approvals

Completion of the Internal Market

The EC Whole Vehicle Type-Approval (EC WVTA) system applies to passenger cars and to motorcycles on a mandatory basis since January 1998 and June 2003, respectively. As a result, these categories of vehicles must comply with all the relevant EC type-approval directives in order to be placed on the market.

For new types of tractor in categories T1-T2-T3, WVTA is mandatory since 1 July 2005 and all new tractors in these categories must comply as of 1 July 2009. Optional harmonisation has been partly achieved for other categories since 1990; manufacturers may choose between applying the EC directives and regulations and obtaining an EC WVTA, or requesting a national type-approval based on the technical requirements of a Member State.

The currently applicable Framework Directive on type-approval of  motor vehicles, adopted in 2007, makes EC WVTA mandatory for all categories of motor vehicles and their trailers. The implementation is enforced in accordance with a time-schedule extending from 2009 to 2014 depending on the vehicle category.

The Framework Directive requires the Member States to take appropriate measures at two stages:

  • before granting type-approval, the approval authority must verify that the type to be approved complies with the relevant safety and environmental requirements and that adequate arrangements for ensuring conformity of production have been taken by the manufacturer;
  • after having granted type-approval, the approval authority must verify that the conformity of production arrangements of the manufacturer continue to be adequate. This verification must be carried out in accordance with the procedures set out in the Directive, and, where appropriate, with the specific provisions of the relevant Regulatory Acts listed in Annex IV of the Framework Directive. This procedure may be carried out with manufacturers' technical equipment and control programs, but may also be extended to the actual testing of selected production samples.

The approval authority of each Member State must send to the approval authority of the other Member States a copy of the vehicle type-approval certificate for each vehicle type which it has approved, refused to approve or withdrawn. With respect to type-approvals of systems, components and separate technical units, only a list of approvals granted must be send at three-monthly intervals.

For vehicles for which EC whole vehicle type approval (EC-WVTA) applies, each Member State shall register or permit the sale and entry into service of new vehicles only if they are accompanied by a valid certificate of conformity (CoC).In accordance with the provisions of Article 18 of the Directive, the manufacturer has the obligation to deliver an original hard copy of the CoC to the purchaser of the vehicle.

A certificate of conformity is, in effect, a statement by the manufacturer that the vehicle conforms to the relevant EC WVTA. Member States cannot refuse to register vehicles if they are accompanied by a valid CoC, proving compliance with the Community legislation.

In addition to the separate EC type-approval directives, technical regulations are developed under the auspices of the UNECE Revised 1958 Agreement. There is a very strong correlation between EU legislation and UNECE regulations, and UNECE regulations adhered to by the EU are considered to be equivalent to their corresponding, separate directives for the purpose of EC type-approval. In a further step towards international harmonisation, the General Safety Regulation provides for the replacement of the separate directives by a mandatory application of the UNECE Regulations.

Fitness Check: Evaluating the legal framework for the type-approval of motor vehicles

As part of its smart regulation policy, the European Commission announced in its Work Programme for 2010 that, "to keep current regulation fit for purpose, the Commission will begin reviewing, from this year onwards, the entire body of legislation in selected policy fields through "fitness checks". The purpose is to identify excessive burdens, overlaps, gaps, inconsistencies and/or obsolete measures which may have appeared over time".

The European Commission selected four Directorates-General to carry out fitness check pilot exercises in the areas of environment, transport, employment and industrial policy. In the area of industrial policy, DG Enterprise and Industry has chosen the internal market legislation for the type-approval of motor vehicles for this pilot exercise.

The main objective of this fitness check is to evaluate the regulatory framework for the type-approval of motor vehicles, with a view to identify what works well and what does not work so well - and where things do not work sufficiently well, about considering ways and means to bring about improvements and better coherence, also with a view to cope with future market challenges. Against that background, the fitness check has to provide the benchmarks for assessing the need for any future amendments to the legal framework for the type-approval of motor vehicles.

Further details on the scope and the approach for the fitness check is provided in the Roadmap pdf - 151 KB [151 KB] and in the presentation "Fitness Check: Evaluating the legal framework for the type-approval of motor vehicles pdf - 679 KB [679 KB] ".

To support the automotive industry unit in running this pilot project, a Fitness Check study was commissioned, involving a broad consultation with and involvement of stakeholders. The results of this study are available in the final report pdf - 2 MB [2 MB] .

The conclusions of the automotive fitness check exercise are summarised in the Commission Staff Working Document "Fitness Check of the EU legal framework for the type-approval of motor vehicles" pdf - 823 KB [823 KB] .

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