Japan
Automobile
Manufacturers
Association, Inc.

Issue No. 4, 2009

JAMA comments on the European Commission’s
proposed policy options for motor vehicle block exemption
under the EU competition law

At the end of September 2009 JAMA submitted to the European Commission its comments on the policy options currently under discussion at the EU level concerning the future of the motor vehicle block exemption. The current block exemption Regulation 1400/2002 is expiring at the end of May 2010.

JAMA welcomed the opportunity to express its views on the Commission’s July 2009 Communication on the competition law framework for the motor vehicle sector. In line with the position already established in 2008, JAMA agrees with the European Commission on a series of issues:

However, JAMA stressed that a number of issues need further consideration. Firstly, the Commission should favour a flexible approach as regards the general rule of qualitative selection of authorized repairers and the linkage between sales and after-sales services in the new regime.

Secondly, JAMA appreciates the Commission’s intention to clarify, in sector-specific provisions, the rules applicable to spare part producers’ accessing the automotive aftermarket. Nevertheless, some concerns remain, for example that spare parts entering the aftermarket should not be deemed “matching quality” unless their safety specifications are equivalent to the original part.

Thirdly, the European Commission should ensure a rapid transition to application of the GBER regime to sales of new vehicles,(not just concerning rules for the aftermarket), which would be beneficial to the sector’s competitiveness. Indeed, the new regime should be applicable as of 1 June 2010 and provide for a maximum transitional period of two years for networks to adapt to the new rules.

Lastly, as regards certain proposed new provisions in the GBER, JAMA requests clarifications about their application to the automobile sector before giving detailed comments relating to both use of producer guarantees/warranties and rules concerning internet sales.

As a conclusion, JAMA fully endorses the proposal to apply the general block exemption regime of Regulation 2790/1999 to the automotive sector, as this would give an important new level of flexibility to the sector and help it to respond to the prevailing economic conditions and thus enhance competition.