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A Common Position…

December 1, 2011


Warminster, England – Finding a  Common Position, that’s what it’s about…

Time to take a peek through the smoke emanating from the, intellectually vacuous, pretentious, verbose and insincere bonfire of words that the “riders rights” groups have ignited over the proposed European Union (EU) Regulations for Motorcycles.

This will be no easy task, that smoke is thick and its gagging to the lungs. Lets use a modernised version of that great British invention the smoke and fog busting device FIDO. Ahh yes the smoke of rhetoric is clearing the facts are emerging we can see the way ahead, we can grasp the significance of the Common Position.

The Common Position? Unfortunately BBR fans not to be found on page sixty-nine of the Kama Sūtra but a term used by European politicians to ensure everyone is facing the same way on a particular issue. Everyone being? The Commission, the Council of Ministers and acolytes, in our case the European Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) and not of course forgetting the European Parliament.

Is there a Common Position emerging? Well yes, admittedly speculating slightly, it seems there is on at least three of the major Motorcycle Regulation issues.

ABS to be a mandatory fitting on all new model machines from 2014 with a switch on models deemed capable of both on and off tarmac use.

Customising and modification including the construction of one-off specials. Left to EU Member States to legislate internally. In the UK’s case there will be little or no change as we already have a Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) scheme in place.

Anti-tampering applying to new models. Motorcycles used by full licence holders will be unaffected. Mopeds and the new light motorcycle likely to have measures incorporated to make modifications to power output impossible or difficult.

So has all the protesting affected the outcome, probably not. But the disinformation disseminated like  “we are all doomed” and the rabid anti EU propaganda has certainly upset the politicians and has definitely damaged our standing with them. Indeed UK Member of the European Parliament Malcolm Harbour, who also chairs the IMCO Committee, has stated in the last few days that he has not had direct contact with the protesters and struggles to understand their position. In a media interview Mr harbour also stated: “That claims that a new EU law will “suppress” the freedom of motorbike riders is “complete nonsense”.

Which leaves the more cynical amongst believing that this whole thing is more about  the UK Motorcycle Action Group, the British Motorcyclists Federation and the Federation of European Motorcycle Associations recruiting new members than the issue of EU Motorcycle Regulation.

And the European motorcycle industry? They appear to have emerged with a deal that will protect their market for the foreseeable future. Be in no doubt that hidden in the small print of the regulations are items that will make it much more difficult to import machines into the EU. Thus the European manufactures have secured the new “light” motorcycle market, machines of 450cc and below, from the Far Eastern competition. Meaning that entry-level motorcycles will be far more expensive than needs be. Why, one wonders, are the “riders rights” groups not protesting about that.

Protest by all means but make sure you check out the vested interests first. This is not a competition it is politics!

Ride safe, have fun!

© Back Roads Rider 2011

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Gingermegs permalink
    December 2, 2011 9:53 am

    I’m inclined to disagree about FEMA, indeed, they have put out interviews with the IMCO members – not a lot but at least something useful and not blatant scaremongering.

    What you have failed to mention is the vested interests of the intrepid reporter and his rag, More Crap than News. (I understand that the ride to Brussels of the 100 to150 protesters was great fun, even if they did protest at the wrong Commission building).

  2. Scouse permalink
    December 2, 2011 12:53 pm

    Hello – anyone in actually there without a chip on their shoulder … sorry but are you just reading what you want to… the whole raft of issues, including increased costs to those whishing to purchase a small capacity learner bike have been raised with Malcolm Harbour AND documented several times. What he chooses to say to a UKIP stooge waving a microphone and what he is reported as saying in articles on less “axe grinding” websites and in print to the various Riders Rights’ groups do not match.

    The only interview that I have recently seen with Malcolm Harbour stating that nobody had spoken to him before was directly related to the MCN day out in Brussels, and this on the same day when he was in yet another meeting with Elaine Hardy from Right to Ride… curious that was never mentioned…

    The “hysteria” on the issues is possibly due to the Chinese whispers on the internet, mainly via Anti-EU flag wavers on social media sites and the populist press. People want a bogey man and will take the elements of what is being offered to them that fill that role. No matter how often you tell them otherwise when they need someone to blame they grasp onto their perceived truths like a drowning man clawing at a straw.

    I am also concerned that ignoring the potential issue of the often mooted harmonisation of vehicle testing across the EU which surfaces than gets hidden on other smokescreens will mean the loss of the SVA in the UK. I am aware that Periodical Technical Inspection (PTI) is something still in the air but is this just another scare tactic… or did I hear about it on here… oooh so like Wikipedia it must be true 😉

    But seriously if a PTI is brought in it will mean that most likely SVA will be replaced by TuV… they seem to be lobbtying quite strongly on this score. They took over this side of things in Denmark and now it costs a fortune to build anything at all over there… checkout the work of the Wrenchmonkees and the issues they face to build a bike using already TuV approved parts.

    We may still have SVA but for how long… ?

    • Elaine permalink
      December 3, 2011 10:37 am

      Scouse, see Trev’s response – however with regards to your comment “…and this on the same day when he was in yet another meeting with Elaine Hardy from Right to Ride… curious that was never mentioned…”.

      For clarification – I chatted with Malcolm during the IMCO lunch break – but the meeting was with his assistant – same thing you may say. However, this meeting was to discuss article 52 and modifications.

      Specifically with a full briefing from Rick Hulse (NABD) and advice from Adrian Burrows DfT, I discussed the potential impact of legislation on modifications for disabled riders. In the event this was clarified by the EC representative who stated that there are absolutely no intentions of including legislation regarding (what he called “useful”) modifications for disabled riders. When I returned home I briefed Rick. So he is now fully up to speed.

      If you want more details, feel free to contact either Trev or myself.

  3. Elaine permalink
    December 2, 2011 8:51 pm

    Not so simple – unfortunately – what the Commission wants and what the MEPs want – apart from Malcolm Harbour who seems the only sane voice in the IMCO committee….is not the same… see here

    What is certain is that everything’s up for grabs.

  4. December 3, 2011 2:14 am

    If you listen to the video, I assume you mean this one although I see no UKIP stooge and certainly is a less “axe grinding” website, he does say that he has had regular meetings with all the other motorbike associations.

    Here’s an article by him at another less “axe grinding” website.

    Regarding the “hysteria” it is definately there, as you say, mainly via Anti-EU flag wavers on social media sites and the populist press, but where has it come from?

    In my opinion this hysteria has been fanned directly by MAG and can be identified in time from the editorials in BSH and Streetfighters magazine and a rant on Biker FM which MAG never clarified and then used this to built up to the September protests. MAG in this context is Paddy Tyson and Nich Brown as they would guide MAGs National Committee to a decision to run the protests and agree on the approach taken?

    From some of our recent articles:

    “Over the last few months, UK rider organisations have been using inflammatory rhetoric to gain support for these protests. This rhetoric has been based on theorizing and deriving conclusions to what the proposal may (or may not) mean for motorcycling.

    Facts have been confused with supposition and the consequence of this is that it has led to panic and anti-EU hysteria. All of this appears to be a lack of understanding of the proposal.

    We have written to the main protagonists concerned with the MCN protest ride, MCN’s Steve Farrell the BMF’s Chris Hodder and the MAG President Ian Mutch.

    We asked them, why they did not use their positions to contact the IMCO Chairman and the European Commission when they had the opportunity while in Brussels?

    Because if they had, they would have found that most of the information that they are disseminating is either incorrect or misleading, running with what appears to be visceral anti-European propaganda which in the end does nothing to change the issues regarding these proposals.

    We are now asking this trio and the organisations that they represent, to explain clearly and precisely how and why they came to the conclusions that they have made and with what evidence.

    Regarding the scheduled vote in the IMCO committee, Paddy Tyson from MAG UK comments, “we have very good cause to believe it will be moved yet again, as there is no way the Impact Assessment can be completed, a report prepared, and the Committee members have time to read it, before the 5th December”.

    The Impact Assessment that Paddy Tyson mentions is not looking at the whole regulation proposal as submitted by the European Commission. The Impact Assessment will be looking at three compromise amendments which were submitted by MEPs to the IMCO Rapporteur, Mr van de Camp’s report.

    While we have every respect for MAG the organisation, is this information supplied by MAG’s Campaign Manager Paddy Tyson offering false hope to riders without an understanding of the technical contents of the proposal?

    We assume that the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA), who represent national motorcycle organisations, has been lobbying hard within Brussels.

    However in this day and age of internet communications, websites, emails and social networking, all of which FEMA participate in, as we run up to the vote, this communication on the lobbying is missing and leaves a huge hole to be filled by the hype, misinterpretation and hysteria on the proposal.

    We have written to FEMA in the spirit of getting facts and asked for information and FEMA’s opinion on the proposal.”

    Regarding PTI I would love to see a MAG or a BMF position on this. MAG has mentioned it in its rhetoric but I can’t find any reference to what it has done on the issue. FEMA has run a campaign against PTI it has a position but where is the position by UK rider organisations for UK riders?

    Here’s a position or two

    You menion scare tatctics but say, “I am also concerned that ignoring the potential issue of the often mooted harmonisation of vehicle testing across the EU which surfaces than gets hidden on other smokescreens will mean the loss of the SVA in the UK.

    But seriously if a PTI is brought in it will mean that most likely SVA will be replaced by TuV… they seem to be lobbtying quite strongly on this score.”

    What has led you to be concerned, how did you reach the conclusion that it is most likely SVA will be replaced by TuV, who is the “they” that are lobbying and what is their strong lobby?



  5. Scouse permalink
    December 4, 2011 1:24 pm

    I know your position on may things in this area, but I also think you are missing the point – thanks to your link to the FULL interview with Malcolm Harbour I now feel villified in the initial reaction that the whole thing felt like a UKIP “stalinist” makeover of the same interview with two vital minutes missed out.

    This is what was concerning me and due to their use of what is actually copyrighted material in this way , they appear to imply that they actually had a “stooge” doing the filming for UKIP.

    As regards the TuV thing… since successfully getting into Denmark they seem to want to start expanding across Europe again… same as they did under the support of Herr Bangerman. If the rumours coming from folk I know working in motorcycling in Benelux countries are to be believed. It is all seems linked to the PTI … it maybe just be the industry becoming jittery and panicking but this is no different to the way that “social networking” has blown a lot of things out of proportion; which is one of the reasons I like the contributions on here. As you may now be aware if you are amongst the folk on here who know me I effectively dropped out of things due to illness and as I am now on the mend I am desperately trying to get back up to speed and also now trying to filter the crap I see flying about… and also trying in a small way to stop it. Also now have conflict of interest situation to deal with as I have changed jobs… so can’t be seen to be too involved. So allow me a certain degree of vagueness.

    There is however I agree still far too much rhetoric, misinformation, and inflammatory statements, mainly emanating from minor political parties and the press … and I feel a little bit too much bitching from the more experienced pundits. Some of it , yes it is needed, and other items are just exasperated sigh inducing point scoring which in this situation we need to maybe reign in… I know I do 🙂

    And Elaine… make sure then you keep tighter editorial control of what Trev publishes when you are out of the country … it made me happy to think we as riders actually had someone in the building in a scheduled meeting making in-depth reasoned discussion with Malcolm Harbour while the misguided folks on the away day were being herded on a whistle stop tour of Brussels underpasses. If it wasn’t the in-depth discussion that was implied… ermm… I am still glad that their is still some sort recognition for representation by riders … yeah ,stop here I think.. 😉 Must remember Pot kettle and all that 😀

  6. Scouse permalink
    December 4, 2011 1:28 pm

    And I must actually remember to still spend more time concentrating and double checking … apologies for the appealing uses of there and their above.

    • December 4, 2011 9:37 pm

      Scouse,”Elaine… make sure then you keep tighter editorial control of what Trev publishes when you are out of the country”

      How condescending and a misinterpetition of what was written which was:

      “While riders protested on the streets of Brussels, outside the European Parliament and the European Commission headquarters, Right To Ride’s Elaine Hardy met with a Representative of the European Commission, the assistants of UK MEP Malcolm Harbour, chair of the IMCO committee and chatted with Malcolm Harbour himself.”

      What part of this can you not seperate out?

      Full story at

      Then there is this:

      “Elaine met with a Representative of the European Commission, the assistant of UK MEP Malcolm Harbour, chair of the IMCO committee and chatted with Malcolm Harbour himself.”

      Pull up your reins there neddy!

  7. Elaine permalink
    December 4, 2011 10:19 pm

    Trev has mentioned that you evidently didn’t read what was written. More to the point, what you have failed to mention is the conversation that I had with the EC representative – and all the issues that were discussed – which lasted an hour and a half. Also don’t underestimate Malcolm’s assistant, he is Malcolm’s assistant and I spent a couple of hours with him too. As you had posted our document “Is the Sky Falling in?” on a facebook page, I would have thought that you had at least read it, evidently not.

    What I find most upsetting is that we’re trying to get facts out in the public to open up the discussion so that everybody knows what’s happening and instead it seems more like a religious war, who has the best prophet. Shame, because nobody’s a winner here.

    Finally don’t ever, ever tell me what to do with Trevor – that’s personal. I won’t be personal other than suggest that you know what you can do with your pot.

    Maybe we can talk about this over a beer at the next MAG AGC? We’ll be there.


  1. El Camino – The Road

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