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Used engines, cats, ecu’s, suspension, brakes sales - all banned!

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With our laws emanating in Europe, it's good to know there is a specific organisation fighting our corner, not only when things go wrong, but before they have the chance too!
The ban we mention in the title is what actually happened in Poland and don’t believe it couldn’t happen here. If the European trade body EGARA hadn’t come to their defence, then that situation would still prevail.

Let’s face it, the vast majority of us don’t even recognise the value of our trade body, the MVDA so what’s the chance of recognising the benefits of the European trade body, EGARA? The reality is that we really do need organisations that monitor what’s going on and then defend our corner, and that's as important in Europe as it is in the UK. Unfortunatley, the more successful any of these organisations are at protecting our interests the less we know about it. After all, the effects are only felt when problems slip through the net.
So what is EGARA and what its role?
The body’s membership is made up from one auto recycling trade organisation from each individual European country. That’s not to say that all countries are EGARA members, they are not. The decision to join EGARA is that of the trade organisation in each particular country. MVDA took the decision to join many years ago and so form the representation for the UK. Part of members’ subscriptions are used to pay for the body. Currently 12 countries are members.

As for EGARA’s role, they work together with relevant European organisations in the automotive and recycling sectors and provide input to the European Government at both the Commission and Parliament levels. For example, during the development of the EU directive on End-of-Life Vehicles (ELVs), EGARA was there to inform those in power about our industry and to protect our interests.

Paul Fox, EGARA chairman
EGARA’s chairman, Paul Fox. “I am in no doubt that without EGARA’s efforts we would all be looking at a much bleaker landscape to operate in than we have today”.
We have to bear in mind that all our legislation emanates from Europe, all we do in the UK (and every other EU country) is implement those laws. You may be thinking that EGARA didn’t do such a good job because of the heavy weight of legislation we are burdened with, but the reality is that their influence and persistence meant that the legislation did allow for us to maintain our businesses.
So what is EGARA up to currently?
EGARA’s chairman is Paul Fox, managing director of Hull based Willingham’s’s Recovery. Paul is under no illusions of the need to be heard in Europe. For evidence of this let’s take a look at what happened in Poland.

You may not have heard of CLEPA; they are the European umbrella membership organisation for the global automotive supply industry. They want their members to sell new parts and put a great deal of effort into convincing both Europe and it’s individual governments that they should ban many used parts on the grounds of a threat to road safety or harm to the environment. Well in Poland they succeeded. The Polish government agreed to a very long list of parts to be outlawed for re-use. This wasn’t just the question of airbags or some other specific item on a vehicle, this went all the way to include engines, cats, ecu’s, suspension, brakes - you name it they included it. This would have destroyed the fledgling professional auto recycling industry in that country.

The Polish trade body turned to EGARA for help. Bearing in mind we have a directive that says waste should be reused and recovered, and preference should be given to reuse and recycling, this made no sense. EGARA, using its influence and contacts within the EC sent a position paper to the Polish government which eventually corrected this problem.

What this shows is two fold. Firstly, you need a strong national trade body that can keep on top of what the local government is up to, but also you need a European body to make sure that the rules coming out of the EU won’t allow for the national governments to implement unfair controls. One of the key EU principals is that legislation should be implemented in a fair and balanced way in all countries to create level playing fields.

Currently Paul and his committee are working hard to make sure that the automotive industry stands by its commitments at the European level to make the necessary information available to allow for re-use of components. One aspect of this is interchangeability of parts. We all know that many parts are the same on many vehicles but without the correct data from the manufacturers it is impossible to put together comprehensive interchange information.

EGARA are working with ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association) to make this information available. This should give a big boost to re-use as full interchangeability will be available. Paul explained, “EGARA isn’t only about dealing with government bodies and legislation, we are very much involved with finding commonality with related bodies and working with them for mutual benefits.” He went on, “No matter what we are doing, we ask ourselves, where is the advantage for the legal operator over the illegal operator? Let’s face it, access to the manufacturers data for all of Europe will be a useful tool. The way delivery charges have come down, it means an individual or business can source parts from anywhere in Europe with confidence”.

Another area where EGARA is talking closely to EU officials is the removal of VAT for re-used parts. The drive here is to remove the advantage the illegal operator has who does not need to charge VAT. “We must put the advantage back in the hands of the legal operators and EU officials understand this”, said Paul. This is an aspect of EGARA’s role which is becoming more and more significant. Officials do not want to see laws and regulations that help the illegal operator whilst at the same time penalising the professional.

The organisation doesn’t work like a lobbying organisation that constantly harasses and cajoles officials; rather it develops solutions for the industry that it then discusses with interested parties. By doing this they have developed close bonds with both the legislative and commercial bodies related to our industry.

There are plenty of other examples of great work EGARA has carried out on our behalf that I could mention. Examples such as the potential threat of having to remove all seat covers as some of the flame retardants that had been used could harm health and the pressure was on to make all ATFs remove all covers. EGARA researched this issue and found the problem to be both applicable to a very small number of seats and also that manufacturers could not indicate which makes and models were affected. This research convinced the European legislators that the removal of seat covers would be unnecessary.

So this is what EGARA is about - is it worth it? I would say a definite yes as the alternative of letting legislators come up with rules without any knowledge of the implications for our industry seems a very scary option! As regular readers will be aware, atfPro is a big supporter of the MVDA as it fights our corner and lets us get on with our businesses. I would ask you all to consider joining as the stronger the body, the stronger the voice. Afterall, what else gives you this much value for a tenner a week! for further information, contact MVDA on 01543 354354 or email them.

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