European motorsport saved from fatal crash after mass lobby

Motorsport fans across Europe have breathed a sigh of relief after lobby groups successfully put the brakes on a controversial insurance proposal which could have killed it off.

A European Parliament committee had issued a directive aimed at tightening up insurance rules during off-road use – but industry chiefs said the small print would have led to the end of motorsports across the continent.

The UK-based Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) pulled together a Europe-wide coalition of motorsport groups along with the UK government’s Department for Transport and began a mass lobby.

On January 22 the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) adopted changes to motor insurance rules – but excluded vehicles intended exclusively for motorsports.

Tony Campbell, MCIA CEO, said: “This is great news and a big relief for motorsport of all types.

“The potential impact of the proposal would have been catastrophic and likely to result in the end of motorsport as we know it.

“The MCIA Public Affairs team was the first to recognise the threat and as such was instrumental in achieving this great result.”

The directive was also tagged as “Vnuk” because it was put forward after a Slovenian farm worker, Damijan Vnuk, was knocked off a ladder by a tractor reversing across a farmyard.

The MCIA said: “The proposed judgment threatened motorcycle and motor sport by making road traffic insurance compulsory during off-road use, for example, on a motor racing circuit.

“This would require a form of insurance not commercially available and according to the insurance industry, probably unachievable.”

Its coalition included groups such as the Auto-Cycle Union, Amateur Motor Cycle Association, Motorsport Industry Association, the UK Department for Transport and the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers.

IMCO said in a Press release: “This directive aims to protect victims of accidents in EU member states other than that of their residence, and domestic victims of an accident caused by a driver from another EU country.”

It added: “E-bikes, segways and electric scooters are excluded from the scope of the directive …… Vehicles intended exclusively for motorsports are also excluded, as they are generally covered by other forms of liability insurance and are not subject to compulsory motor insurance when they are solely used for a competition.”

Would Brexit have affected the situation for the UK? Mr Campbell said: “Whilst Brexit may have created an opt-out for UK motorsport, 80 per cent of the UK motorsport economy is derived from export to the EU and therefore there would be no escape for the motorsport business world.”

IMCO said: “The amended proposal, adopted in committee by 34 votes to one, with two abstentions, is due to be voted on by the full House during the 11-14 February plenary session. The text would then still need to be agreed with the Council before becoming law.”

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