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ACEA steps up Block Exemption campaign

ACEA, the European carmakers trade association, is stepping up its campaign in support of Block Exemption ahead of the European Commission's review.

The organisation said a factual debate on “the core elements of automotive distribution and servicing systems” would demonstrate the benefits outweigh any “restrictive elements”.

ACEA is ready to enter into “constructive dialogue” with the Commission. The board fired its first shot in the debate last week issuing a statement of the benefits of selective and exclusive distribution.

It claimed these were easy access to a network of highly qualified specialist dealers; reduced distribution costs and strong competition.

The organisation believes consumer choice is “biggest” in Europe with more models from more manufacturers available than in any other world market. It said intra-brand competition was strong with consumers shopping around within countries and across borders.

But European Commission investigations into restrictive practices are likely to continue to hamper the carmakers' arguments.

Mario Monti, European competition commissioner, has already made it clear he treats the carmakers' claims to operate an open market with considerable scepticism. Following recent fines on Volkswagen and Opel Netherlands for influencing cross-border trade, the Commission is also investigating similar complaints against DaimlerChrysler, Peugeot and Renault.

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