Whilst I was the Parliamentary Liaison Officer for the Motorcycle Action Group, I wrote an article for the European Brief, a magazine avidly read by legislators and bureaucrats in Brussels. As it was not possible to print what was obviously the output of a pressure group, Roger Barton MEP, member of the Economic and Monetary Policy Committee, Single Market Proposal, sympathised and supported our opposition and lent his name to this article.
During the nineties, the European Commission was busy with single market directives intending to make things easier for manufacturers to meet common standards instead of different ones in each member state. It is not the intention of the EU to force member states to change their laws or the behaviour of individual citizens. Unfortunately this type of technical regulation is often seen as a means of dealing with an internal problem and blaming the EU for the imposition. It then enables bureaucrats to extend their sphere of influence into unrelated areas based on no more than personal prejudice.
French teenagers were permitted to ride a moped without a licence from the age of fourteen. The power of the moped was restricted but, as more power was squeezed out of these machines by owner modification, safety was becoming a problem and enforcement very difficult. A convenient solution was to force moped manufacturers to ensure that modification was impossible. This was the Anti-tampering chapter which obliged manufacturers to design and build machines that would resist modification by means of components that would self destruct upon tampering or would otherwise be impossible to modify.
The Commission then horrified both motorcyclists and manufacturers by proposing that it be extended to all motorcycles. There was no good reason given for this other than simply an extension of the chapter applying to mopeds. Added to this was a prohibition of a commonality of parts across different models: a common practice for motorcycle and car manufacturers.
In order to permit modification and customisation, the earlier Motorcycle Type Approval Framework directive (92/61 EEC) laid down the principle that type approval should apply only to the original design and not to vehicles that are in use. What started as a measure to control the illegal adaptation of mopeds had become a means of preventing legal activity for all motorcyclists.
European Brief, February 1995
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