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European Commission - Press release

Free movement of goods: Right-hand vehicles cannot be registered - Lithuania referred to Court

Brussels 27 October 2011. The European Commission has decided to refer Lithuania to the EU's Court of Justice because it maintains obstacles to the registration of right-hand drive vehicles in Lithuania in breach of EU rules on vehicle type-approval and on the free movement of goods.

National legislation in Lithuania prohibits registration of new and used cars with right-hand drive. The Commission considers that these restrictions constitute a disproportionate barrier to the import of such vehicles from other EU Member States (e.g. by citizens returning to Lithuania after having worked in the United Kingdom or Ireland). In November 2010 the Commission requested the Lithuanian authorities to put an end to these restrictions (see IP/10/1546) but they are still in place.

In the Commission's view, if a motor vehicle meets EU type-approval requirements, it can be driven safely in all Member States irrespective of whether it is left- or right-hand drive. Therefore, the Commission considers that a total ban on the registration of right-hand drive vehicles is disproportionate to the legitimate public policy objective of ensuring road safety and protecting of human life and health.

As far as new cars are concerned, the Commission believes that the obstacles to the registration of right-hand vehicles are contrary to Directive 70/311/EEC on type-approval of steering equipment and framework Directive 2007/46/EC on EC type-approval of motor vehicles. Regarding used cars, the Commission considers that Lithuania is breaching EU rules on the free movement of goods (Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

For more information on the free movement of goods within the EU:

More information on the Commission’s initiatives on the automotive industry:

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/739

Contacts :

Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52

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