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PR(94)24: Surveillance Authority speaks out against new EU block exemption for motor vehicle distribution

27.9.2002

The EFTA Surveillance Authority today expressed its view that the European Commission's motor vehicle block exemption (Regulation 123/85), presently under review, should not be superseded by a new block exemption of the same kind. In adopting this view, the Authority made use of Article 109 and Protocol 23 of the EEA Agreement, providing for consultations on policy issues between the European Commission and the EFTA Surveillance Authority.

The proposed draft Regulation could eventually, if adopted by the Commission, result in a corresponding amendment of the EEA Agreement, introducing the same block exemption under EEA rules.

In the view of the Authority it has not been demonstrated that there are specific circumstances which would support such restrictions of competition in the distribution and servicing of motor vehicles as are not found in comparable sectors. On the contrary, the present experience of the European market, still being divided along national lines with big price differentials, indicates a need to open up this market for effective competition. The organisation of distribution of passenger cars should consequently ‑ as normally provided for in market economies ‑ be decided in the marketplace through the choice of consumers, and not through administrative arrangements.

The Authority would, however, support the prolongation of parts of the block exemption for a transition period not exceeding five years, in order to allow the automobile industry time to adapt to effective competition in this market. This partial prolongation should be accompanied by a clear statement that any further prolongation is excluded.

In taking this view, the Authority has primarily considered the interest of consumers and to the importance of effective competition throughout the European Economic Area", underlines Nic Grönvall, the Member of the Authority responsible for competition matters.

For a copy of the view of the EFTA Surveillance Authority please contact the secretariat of Nic Grönvall on tel. 22 66 913.

 

 




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