The European Parliament turns a blind eye on motorcycling citizens.
On Monday 27th of March, the European Union Member States agreed on a compromise text for a new Driving Licence Directive (DLD), which following an agreement with key Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) is now expected to be fast-tracked and rubber stamped by the European Parliament without further amendments before June.
Using genuine road safety concerns for questionable provisions, the DLD is seeking to introduce a range of measures that restrict access to motorcycling through regulatory requirements of unjustified complexity and cost (see the European Commission memo summarising the provisions of the DLD agreed by the Council of Ministers
For this reason, the United Kingdom delegation in the Council clearly underlined their dissatisfaction with the motorcycle provisions and questioned their road safety benefit by abstaining from the vote.
The proposed motorcycle access scheme leads one to conclude that the intention is to frustrate the objectives of improving access to motorcycles stated in the original pro harmonisation European Commission proposal. It is therefore unbelievable that during the Council of Ministers meeting both Transport Commissioner Mr Barrot and Austrian Transport Minister Mr Gorbach could comment on the reservations expressed on the motorcycle access scheme, saying they do not want to make motorcycle access too difficult.
FEMA and its National Organisations have been seeking to have a fair and reasonable consideration of the issues within the European institutions based on the contribution that motorcycles make to mobility and research-based road safety evidence. As citizens, we were assured by the European Parliament following first reading, in private and in public in particular by Rapporteur MEP Mr Grosch, that
the motorcycle access scheme's illogical aspects, which in the end actually will deter people from progressively accessing motorcycles, or even accessing motorcycles at all, would be properly addressed in second reading (see FEMA press release 8/12/2005). It now looks that these promises and logic were compromised at the expense of the citizen seeking to ride a motorcycle in order to get the DLD through without resorting to the full length of the legislative procedure, with key MEPs agreeing on an inter-institutional compromise between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.
FEMA is appalled by the attitude of the European Institutions, which can only be seen as standing the logic of the motorcycle access scheme on its head, actually asking future riders who will choose to privilege experience on smaller vehicles to regularly undergo training and/or testing between each of the vehicle categories (A1, A2, A). We believe that the European Parliament is choosing to turn a blind eye, using as a pretext a distorted approach to road safety and creating a potentially very unstable and expensive access scheme to motorcycles across the EU.
FEMA will be meeting this weekend to look at actions to be developed in the coming period to raise the awareness within the elected body of the European Union on their responsibility for good and balanced legislation towards the citizen.