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Dotcoms take the initiative at Block Exemption review

Manufacturers failed to win the initiative during the European Commission review of Block Exemption this week, losing ground particularly to the dotcom new entrants determined to win an advantage in the new 'world order'

The review, held in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, was not open to the press, but according to an Automotive Management source none of the numerous and disparate groups from the industry put forward any new arguments.

However, there were clear winners in the battle to get a message across.

The source said: “It was clear that the initiative was taken by those looking to further their individual causes rather than the manufacturers defending the status quo.

“Internet operators, like Virgin, put forward their case based on what their strengths were. They were attacking on a single front, while manufacturers were defending on all fronts and came off the weaker.”

The EC allowed representations from dealer groups, manufacturers, independent repairers and consumers. Companies or organisations represented included Virgin, OneSwoop, Auto4Europe, Volvo, Renault, Direct Line, the Consumers' Association, ACEA, and the RMI.

The two days were given over to a general discussion on the first day and, on the second, specific debates on a possible future regulatory system that would ensure “workable competition in the aftersales service market” and then what would be the most effective way to ensure the same competition in the sale of new cars.

Now, the commission has put out to tender for a third study to examine the potential impact of various regulatory scenarios. This third 'impact' study should be completed this summer. This will be published in draft form. There will then be a consultation before the EC makes the final decision on the new regime once the current Block Exemption regulation expires on September 30, 2002.

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