EU Commission to end up in court?

MAG member Jon Strong has continued with his complaint to the European Ombudsman, covering several issues that MAG has been fighting and now, with the support of Steve Baker MP (High Wycombe), has asked the UK Government to challenge the legitimacy of the EU Type Approval Regulation in the European Court of Justice.

Read on to see how you can help.

The first of Jon’s grounds for his original complaint was the conduct of the EU Periodic Technical Inspection (PTI) survey on the basis that it was only available in English, disenfranchising the non-English speakers in the E U and that the survey itself was so poor that it wouldn’t get a pass mark if submitted as an undergraduate assignment. Jon felt that the right to respond to a survey in any of the EU official languages was meaningless if the respondent couldn’t read the questions! Jon is not anti-EU but he just believes that lawmakers should abide by the treaties and rules that grant them the power to make new laws. His anger is a result of what appears to be the EU Transport Directorate’s seeming contempt for the treaties and a blatant disregard for the rights of EU citizens.

Other grounds for complaint have been the Type Approval Regulation proposed by the Euro Commission. Jon has challenged the proposed regulation using the Treaties of the European Union and the associated protocols. His challenge covers some of the basic articles of the proposed regulation including anti-tampering measures, anti-lock brakes, on-board diagnostics and “Automatic Headlamp On”.

While researching the issues, Jon noticed a discrepancy between a statement buried deep in Annex XVIII of the Commission’s Impact Assessment which said the Commission recommended trying to determine data as to the current level of ‘tampering’ or modifying of machines by riders, and EU Treaty rules that say laws should be ‘proportional’. In other words, only apply new laws when there is a real and justified problem that requires fixing. Jon pointed out that the MAIDS 2004 study of bike accidents in Europe, pointed to vehicle condition being the primary cause of accidents in 0.7% of the study. Also a 2003 TUV report paid for by the Commission, advised that research was necessary to establish if ‘tampering’ was common, and if it had any impact on accidents. That research has not been done.

Jon’s complaint is that one needs to know the scale of the problem to determine the proportionality of the legislative measure needed to deal with it and that the Commission has not presented the detailed evidence required. Without the evidence the proportionality cannot be appraised and the draft legislation breaches the Treaty.

The European Ombudsman accepted that Jon had made a sufficiently strong case for the Commission to need to answer. The Ombudsman gave the Commission until the end of September 2011 to respond. Two weeks before the deadline the Commission asked for more time and committed to respond by 31st October. The Commission missed the deadline and didn’t respond until end of November, when they presented a short letter containing banal generalities as to how they had followed their own Guidelines for Impact Assessments and had done the necessary work.

Jon was given until the 31st January this year to reply to the Commission’s response. Apart from being incensed by the Commissions lack of answer to his detail challenges, he decided to put his strategy skills to use and follow the document trail the Commission had set out and can demonstrate that the Commission has not followed their own Guidelines as stated to the European Ombudsman. Jon has responded.

Please be a part of the battle by contacting the Ombudsman here and ask for details of Case reference 0875/2011/JF. Just enter the ref in the subject box and ask for details of the case in the box below. We don’t advise you print off the reply as it runs to many pages, a substantial number of which are blank where the Commission is missing required evidence and data for financial planning of their programmes. To date over 2000 people have requested access to the case materials. The Ombudsman’s office had to change their process and set up a special download site to contain their costs. The case has generated more requests than any other the European Ombudsman has had and if they find in Jon’s favour, it will amount to gross maladministration by the EU Commission.

The other thing that you can do in light of Steve Baker’s recent request to the UK Gov, is to write to Justine Greening the Secretary of State for Transport and say something like this:

Dear Secretary of State

The European Ombudsman (case number 0875/2011/JF) has found that the EU Commission has a case to answer for maladministration and issues of proportionality, as defined by the Treaty of the European Union (Article 5 para 4), regarding its proposed Regulation COM(2010)542 final.

Issues within the Regulation raising concern in regards of proportionality include Anti-tampering, mandatory Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) and Automatic Headlights On (AHO).

The Regulation is currently timetabled to go before Plenary session on 19th April 2012 without evidence to support some of the proposals contained within. I fear that the case before the Ombudsman will not be resolved prior to that Parliamentary vote.

I am therefore writing to ask that you call on the European Commission to drop those articles relevant to the Ombudsman’s investigation, especially article 18 of its proposed regulation, until these issues can be resolved.

I further ask that you support the call from Steven Baker MP (High Wycombe) demanding the European Court of Justice makes a ruling on this fundamental breach of the Treaty of the European Union.

Yours sincerely