The European unions block exemption rules regarding car servicing came up for revue in May 2010.
The reform was all about setting new rules to take into account the intensity of competition on the markets for the distribution of motor vehicles and spare parts, and for the provision of repair and maintenance services. It covers cars, trucks and buses, and all types of garage small or large. http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/business-law/competition-matters/competition-policy/european-competition-policy/eu-motor-vehicle-block-exemption-regulation
The Commission found that competition in the market for the sale of new vehicles is strong. In this light, the current sector-specific rules create an unnecessary straitjacket that prevents car manufacturers from organising their distribution systems as they see fit. The Commission has therefore aligned the rules applicable to motor vehicle distribution with those that apply to distribution agreements in other sectors but with a three-year transition period to allow dealers to adapt to the new measures.
Competition on the markets for repair and maintenance and for spare parts distribution is less intense, This is a risk to consumers who may be harmed by anti-competitive practices that push up repair costs. The garage Repair and maintenance industry is very important for consumers, not only for reasons of safety and reliability, but also because repair bills account for 40% of the total cost to car owners. Unlike car prices, the cost of the average repair job has actually risen over the past years.
Consumers are feeling the effect of rising repair costs during the present crisis, they are more price-sensitive and drive older vehicles that require more regular maintenance. Thenew EU Commission has put in place a tougher regime for these markets that will make it easier to enforce the rules. Particular problematic issues include holding back technical information and not releasing spare parts, and refusing to honour warranties when consumers have their cars repaired at independent garages.
Independent garages and repairers such as Pellon Autocentre who carry out car servicing
are important because they give more choice to consumers and keep the price of services and repairs competitive by putting pressure due to competitive pricing against car manufacturers main dealers and authorised repair, and car servicing networks. But for this to happen it is essential that garages can get the technical information necessary to do the repairs and carry out the work on increasingly sophisticated cars with increasing amounts of technology.
Withholding “technical information” will be dealt with directly under the EU Treaty rules on restrictive business practices (Article 101) since, the manufacturers , spare parts and repair shops generally have a larger market share in excess of 30%. In addition, Guidelines also being brought in contain detailed clarifications as to the notion of technical information, cross-referring to Regulation 715/2007 on type approval of certain cars and all subsequent implementing regulations. The new rules assure that garages have access to technical information for models which are type-approved after 1 September 2009. By making a clear link with the 2007 car type-approvals Regulation, the EU Commission will ensure both consistency as regards access to technical information for cars put in circulation before that date and allow the presentation of technical information to evolve and continue in line with technical progress.
The EU Commission remains committed to vigorously enforce the rules on access to technical information, as demonstrated in four cases brought in 2007 to ensure that car manufacturers disclose the necessary information to independent repairers and car servicing garages such as Pellonautocentre.
By strengthening the enforcement of competition rules in the garage, car servicing, maintenance and spare parts markets, the new rules will contribute to creating a level playing field between car manufacturers and spare part producers, and thus contribute to lower prices for spare parts. This has to be very good news for the garage,car servicing, repair and spare parts industry. This result must give great pride to all the different groups and individuals that spent hard earned money lobbying and writing to their EU and local MPs.
The new Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation will continue for 13 years until 2023. The EU Commission will constantly monitor the situation in the markets for motor vehicle car servicing and spare parts distribution, as well as in the market for the provision of repair and maintenance services. The EU Commission will also monitor the application of the Regulation, in cooperation with National Competition Authorities and stakeholders. Once again the UK garage, car servicing and motor industry can continue to work hard and give the public the service and competitive pricing they deserve.