The UK’s automotive aftermarket has been warned not to underestimate the importance of the Block Exemption Regulation after the European Commission this month launched a public consultation into its future.
The current regulation, which ensures independent garages can service any vehicle without affecting its warranty, is set to expire on May 31, 2023.
Lawrence Bleasdale, board and council member at the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has said Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (Commission Regulation (EU) No 461/2010) “needs to be maintained and modernised”.
In a statement, he added: “It is the central piece of legislation ensuring a certain level playing field for competition in the automotive aftermarket between independent operators and vehicle manufacturers and their authorised networks.
“Put us back decades”
“Abandoning the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation and its principles in 2023 would put us back decades and increase the vehicle manufacturers monopoly of the aftermarket, threatening the very existence of the independent aftermarket.
“These regulations, fought for over many years, have provided independent garages protection and the ability to successfully access newer vehicles, bringing about new skills and standards.
“If they were to disappear, there is no quick workaround.
“European Motor Vehicle Block Exemptions are the envy of many automotive industries around the world, who see first-hand the detriment to consumer choice through a lack of regulation and safeguards for the IAM.”
Announcing the launch of the consultation earlier this month, the European Commission said: “The objective of this consultation is to collect in-depth and high quality facts and evidence on the key competition issues arising in vertical relationships on the motor vehicle distribution and after-sales markets from the perspective of stakeholders.”
The regulation mandates the Commission to draw up an evaluation report on its operation by 31 May 2021.
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