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EU passes law to prevent parts' 'monolpoly'

The European Commission has today adopted a proposal designed to liberalise the aftermarket in spare parts for repair purposes.

The proposals mean forcing member states whose legislation still protects car manufacturers' exclusive right to manufacture and sell visible replacement parts to harmonise their legislation with that of member states including the UK, which allow independent producers to compete in the aftermarket.

The EC estimates visible parts are up to 10% cheaper in countries that have opened up their markets to alternative parts producers, and that independent parts manufacturers account for less than 15% of the EU market.

The legislation ends design protection in respect of the aftermarket, though car manufacturers would retain all rights regarding parts built into new cars.

ACEA members had argued the plans would cost them €2.5bn (£1.7bn) a year in revenue, and warned the Commission it could see 50,000 jobs shifted outside Europe, mainly to Taiwan, while making it more difficult to persuade China to crack down on copying of components.

Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein who advocated the proposal says: "The proposal has significant benefits. First, it will give consumers better choice and value when they buy spare parts. The commission estimates that spare parts are 6-10 % more expensive in member states where they are subject to design protection. People are entitled to value for money throughout a vehicle’s life. This proposal will help them get it."

Bolkestein characterised the manufacturers’ lobbying campaign against the proposal as "a classic example of the narrow vested interests of the few, namely a handful of large car manufacturers with huge resources, trying to undermine the broader interests of the many, namely car owners throughout Europe".

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