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09-07-2013

Car re-registration: EU to tackle one of Europeans' biggest complaints

Some €1.5 billion could be saved each year simply be making it easer to re-register your vehicle in the EU. Difficulties when transferring a vehicle to another member state is one of the 20 problems Europeans complain about the most . On 9 July the EP's internal market committee approved a proposal to cut red tape when moving a car to another country in the EU.

The situation today

Re-registering a car in another country is very common in the EU. For example, it is done by commuters living in border regions, people buying second-hand cars in another member state or those spending half of the year in a summer residence. However, it was identified as one of the 20 most frequent complaints by Europeans in a Commission report on EU citizens' rights. A new Commission proposal is now looking to make this cumbersome procedure easier. Toine Manders, a Dutch member of the ALDE group, is responsible for drawing up a recommendation on the proposal to other MEPS. "We want to prove that the internal market is working," he said.

The proposal

The Commission aims to improve the situation by simplifying the re-registration procedure by reducing the number of documents needed and by creating a European database so that member states can exchange documents. It also wants to clarify where people who use their car mostly abroad - for example commuters - should register their car.

If people have to re-register their car because of moving to another member state, they can choose whether to have a national or a Union coloured plate, provided this is in line with the national rules of their new host country.

Why new rules are needed

At a hearing in Parliament on 20 March, experts discussed some of the problems people experience at the moment.

It is currently impossible to buy a car in another EU country and then drive it to your home country legally, according to Claudia May, of the German automobile club ADAC. She said other member states do not accept temporary registration plates and therefore the car cannot be insured.

Rental cars registered in one country cannot be rented in another, explained Mr John Lewis, representative of Leaseurope. Simplifying re-registration would save people and businesses time and money.

Many cars are stolen and are re-registered elsewhere in the EU, but there is no data exchange system to flag up whenever a stolen vehicle is being re-registered in another member state. Having a European database would help to tackle this problem and could also be used to fight fraud.

Next steps

The new rules are expected to be voted on during a full plenary session in early 2014.