Brussels, 28th October 2010
Free movement of goods: Belgium referred to Court over car registration procedure
The European Commission has decided to take Belgium to the EU Court of Justice over its rules relating to the registration of used cars imported from another Member State, notably the requirement to present a certificate of conformity for an imported vehicle and failure to recognise the validity of roadworthiness tests undertaken in other Member States. Under Directive 1999/37/EC on the registration documents for vehicles, the registration of a used car should be possible upon presentation of a valid harmonised registration certificate issued in another Member State. The Commission has referred this case to the Court of Justice because Belgium has failed to fulfil its obligations under EU law and so created unjustified obstacles to the free movement of used cars within the EU's Single Market.
According to Belgian legislation, a certificate of conformity has to be presented during the compulsory roadworthiness test taking place before the registration of a vehicle imported from another Member State. In several Member States - e.g. in Germany - this certificate does not follow the vehicle after the first registration. In such cases, the owner has to ask for a duplicate from the manufacturer or undergo a national validation procedure, thereby making the import of a used car into Belgium more difficult.
The Commission also considers that the fact that, during the roadworthiness test prior to registration, Belgian authorities do not recognise even very recent tests performed in other Member States and requests all tests to be re-done in Belgium, is in breach of EU rules on the free movement of goods (in accordance with the case law of the Court of Justice (case C-170/07). This gives rise to unjustifiable costs and burdens for people importing used cars.
The Commission does not agree with Belgian proposals to amend the system in place as it does not allow a sufficient recognition of recent roadworthiness tests performed in other Member States.
For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/10/530