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Europe needs to address BER

Scrappage has dominated the headlines for many weeks, maybe even months now and while it continues to exercise business minds and get the media in a flurry there are other issues we need to consider. One of these is Block Exemption.

Unlike scrappage, there is no doubt the regulation will continue to impact severely on dealers’, manufacturers’ and suppliers’ businesses for many years to come – and the debate focuses the form it will take.

The urgency with which a UK scrappage scheme had been tabled by leading players in our industry means the Block Exemption regulation was forced from our minds and, in truth, from AM’s pages. It is time to redress this.

The Block Exemption regulation is due for renewal next year. A European Commission impact assessment was due to be published next month.

It is now not likely until the end of July. AM understands from those who have continued to focus on BER the impact assessment is likely to put forward four options.

An insider told AM, politics is playing a heavyweight role in the Brussels debates. The politicians are coming from a “different angle” to the legislators, he said.

There are also European elections on June 4 and Neelie Kroes will pass on the role of European Commissioner for competition policy to a successor.

It is thought she will not want to rock the boat too much before her departure. The impact assessment will come out just before the summer recess begins in August.

Of the four options, nothing is being let out of the bag for three of them, but the fourth option is to do nothing for two years, effectively extending the BER until 2012.

The problem with this is that dealers will have to start lobbying all over again, almost as soon as the delay is announced.
Dealers and their banks need more continuity than this provides and a status quo of five years would be more workable I understand.

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