You are here
Home > FEMA news > European driving licence proposals under fire

European driving licence proposals under fire

With almost 800 amendments, the proposed new European driving licence directive is turning into a bit of a nightmare. Future motorcyclists will probably face a tough time when they want to get their licence.

On the 1st of March 2023, the European Commission published the long-awaited proposal for a Fourth Driving Licence Directive (4DLD). It did not differ too much from the previous one. Some main changes were the introduction of a digital driving licence, a probation period of at least two years for novice drivers, and a zero-tolerance rule on drink-driving. Allowing young people to take their test and commence accompanied driving of cars and lorries from the age of 17, adapting driver training and testing to better prepare drivers for the presence of vulnerable users on the road, and a more targeted assessment of medical fitness.

Perhaps more important for us is what was not in the proposal: nothing about trailers behind motorcycles which from the point of view from the European Commission is still illegal, nothing about riding a small motorcycle with a B licence and additional training, nothing about abolition of a useless stepped accession to the A licence. We communicated our support for the proposed 4DLD and our disappointment about the missing elements to the European Commission and to the European Parliament Committee for Tourism and Transport (TRAN). See also our article on the FEMA website about this.

Direct access to full A motorcycle licence at 24? Forget it, that will no longer be possible, if it is up to Karima Delli.

Rapporteur Karima Delli MEP member of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (photo: European Parliament).

So far, there is nothing special about this. But here it comes. The transport committee (TRAN) appoints its chair, the French Green MEP Karima Delli as rapporteur on this topic. On 28 July 2023, she publishes her report, that consists of 198 amendments and an explanatory statement. A remarkable detail is that the report is only published in Bulgarian, later followed by Hungarian, Maltese and Gaelic. The English (and other) translation follows only early September, a few days before the report was debated in TRAN. The 198 amendments are mostly harmless, but many of them propose restrictions. All in the name of road safety, as Delli later said in the transport committee.

The most important are: no accompanied driving (the Commission had proposed accompanied driving from 17 years for holders of a B licence), no possibility for member states to set a lower age than the EU standards on which someone can get a driving licence. E.g., in France, a person can get an AM licence at 14 years, that would no longer be possible. In many EU countries the minimum age for A1 is 16 years: in the proposal from Delli that would be 18 years in the whole EU. The different stages for A and a probation period for B would also come with different maximum speeds: when you have an A1 licence, are would not be allowed to ride faster than 90 km/h, with A2 that would be 100 km/h and with full A you would never be allowed to ride faster than 110 km/h. That would also be the maximum speed of holders of a B licence. Which brings us to another new element: the B+ licence for cars above 1800 kilograms. A new licence, especially for the SUVs that so much hated by the Greens. Only holders of a normal B licence that have at least two-year experience and are at least 21 years of age can apply for this driving licence. Once in possession of it, they are not only allowed to drive a car that weights more than 1800 kg, but are also allowed to drive 130 km/h. Where this is allowed by the national highway code, of course.

By the way: direct access to full A at 24? Forget it, that would no longer be possible.

Another important change is the introduction of a maximum administrative validity of a driving licence (A or B) of 10 years (Commission proposal: 15 years) for drivers and riders under 60 years. This is to be combined with a mandatory medical check on physical and mental state when applying for the first time for a driving licence and after that with every renewal. When you are over 60 years of age, you will have to renew you r driving licence and undergo a medical check every 7 years, with 70 years of age every 5 years and when you are over 80, you must renew your driving licence and have a medical check every two years.

Again, this is only in the proposal of Ms Delli, not in that of the European Commission. Finally, she wants road safety lessons in schools, during which the pupils are encouraged to use ‘active’ ways of transportation instead of motorized ways of transport. Of course, there is much more to write about this draft report, but these are, for us, the main items. It goes without saying, that we at FEMA have reacted immediately and have rejected the proposals.

After the Rapporteur, the turn was to the other Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) of TRAN. They came with another 595 amendments. I will not tire you with the content of all those. Generally speaking, there are those (especially the Greens, Left and Social Democrats), who follow the line of Delli, that road safety (and perhaps a hardly hidden green agenda?) needs more restrictions, higher ages for new drivers, three year probation period for new drivers, more enforcement, a European system of penalty points, more control and lower and different speed limits for holders of different driving licences.

On the other hand, there are those who do not think that we need more restrictions or lower ages for new drivers and riders, or a special driving license for SUVs, or different speed limits, or shorter administrative validities for licences or mandatory medical checks every ten years. They more or less support the proposal from the Commission with some small adjustments. Some of them have even taken note of the opinion we sent earlier this year and incorporated them in their own amendments. Those MEPs are mostly from the liberals, EPP and from some right-wing parties.

Lawmakers file almost 800 amendments to the proposal for a new driving licence directive.

The rapporteur and shadow-rapporteurs must now streamline all 793 amendments in just a few and bring them together in ‘compromise amendments’ on which first TRAN and later the plenary parliament can vote. The voting in TRAN is scheduled on 7 December 2023. Separate from the European Parliament, the EU member states are discussing the Commission proposal too in the Council. They will later vote upon the proposal from the Parliament and come with their own amendments.

It goes too far to explain the whole process here, but the draft new Driving Licence Directive and the amendments will be discussed several times in the parliament and the Council, and finally Commission, Parliament and Council will try to find an agreement in one or more ‘trilogues’. The last hasn’t been said about the new directive yet and much can change before the new directive is finally adopted. Of course, FEMA will fight until that end to get the best out of it for current and new riders.

Written by Dolf Willigers

Top photograph courtesy of Intermot

This article is subject to FEMA’s copyright