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PR(04)30: Infringement proceedings against Norway concerning rules on temporary import and use of foreign registered motor vehicles

11.8.2004

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has sent a letter of formal notice to Norway due to national rules concerning temporary import and use in Norway of foreign registered motor vehicles by persons considered by Norway to be resident there.

Persons considered by Norway to be permanently resident in the country are generally not allowed to import and use foreign registered motor vehicles in Norway. However, temporary import and use may be allowed in certain situations, for short periods of time, on the basis of a prior authorisation granted under Norwegian Regulation No. 381/1991. Furthermore, Norwegian residents are, in practice, prevented from using a foreign registered rental car even for short periods of time.

The Authority has received several complaints regarding these rules. In the Authority’s view these rules are in breach the EEA Agreement.

First, the Norwegian rules imply that a company established in another EEA State is prevented from seconding its employees considered permanently resident in Norway to provide services in Norway if that involves driving a company car – owned, leased or rented by the company – that is registered in the country where the company is established, unless a permit has been granted. Such a permit will have to be obtained separately on each occasion of temporary vehicle import and an applicant has no certainty as to whether and on what conditions a permit will be granted. This procedure is time consuming and gives rise to an additional administrative burden.

Hence, for foreign service providers, the Norwegian rules make it either impossible or more difficult than it is for service providers established in Norway, to offer their services in Norway. In the Authority’s view, therefore, the rules are liable to restrict the freedom to provide services guaranteed in Article 36 of the EEA Agreement.

Secondly, a company established in another EEA State, which uses company cars registered at the place of its establishment, could be discouraged from employing persons considered as permanently resident in Norway. The Authority therefore considers that the Norwegian rules constitute a restriction on the free movement of workers laid down in Article 28 of the EEA Agreement. Ancillary private use of a temporarily imported company car, provided for in the contract of employment and being part of the worker’s remuneration, should be subject to the same conditions as business use.

In addition, in view of the Authority it follows from Article 28 EEA that Norway, in certain situations, should allow a time-limited import of a foreign registered vehicle owned or leased by a worker considered under Norwegian law to be resident in Norway, but who works and resides in another EEA State, for purposes directly linked to the worker's exercise of his occupational duties.

Finally, the Norwegian rules concerning temporary import of a rented car makes it more difficult for car rental companies established in another EEA State to hire out motor vehicles in the State of their establishment to EEA nationals considered as permanent residents of Norway than to persons resident in the country of establishment of the rental car company.

 

A letter of formal notice is the first step in the Authority’s infringement proceedings. Norway is invited to submit its comments to the letter of formal notice within three months.

For further information, please contact Mr. Niels Fenger, Director of Legal and Executive Affairs, on telephone (+32)(0)2 286 1830.




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