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Draft proposal on postponing the entry into force of the Act on Lightweight Vehicles circulated for comments

Draft proposal on postponing the entry into force of the Act on Lightweight Vehicles circulated for comments

Press release 06.09.2019 13.35 fi sv en

Draft proposal on postponing the entry into force of the Act on Lightweight Vehicles circulated for comments (in Finnish) (LVM)

On 6 September 2019, the Ministry of Transport and Communications circulated for comments the Government proposal on postponing the entry into force of the acts on lightweight vehicles. According to the proposal, the entry into force would be postponed by one year until 1 November 2020.

If the entry into force is not changed, the legislation on lightweight vehicles will enter into force on 1 November 2019. The postponement is related to the stricter position of the European Union Commission on applying the requirements of the Union legislation. The aim of postponing the entry into force is to find out whether Finnish legislation could be amended to follow the Union legislation. The current provisions on the entry into force involve a risk of infringement procedures by the EU Commission against Finland.

The Ministry has also discussed the situation with the Chancellor of Justice. From a legal point of view, the Chancellor of Justice does not recommend the adoption of government decrees that implement acts which, according to the European Commission's assessment, are incompatible with EU law. According to the Chancellor's assessment, there is a legal basis for postponing the entry into force of the acts by virtue of a separate act to be adopted on the basis of the new Government proposal.

Legislative drafting during the previous government term

The project on lightweight vehicles started already in 2017, when the Finnish Transport Safety Agency, Trafi (as of 1 January 2019 Transport and Communications Agency), in cooperation with the Ministry, conducted a study on the introduction of speed-limited passenger cars, particularly for the use of young people. The study examined the impacts of the possible changes and their implementation potential.

The timetable for drafting legislation on lightweight vehicles:

setting up a legislative project, 22 January 2018

open consultation round, 5 June–10 July 2018 

parliamentary discussion, 4 October 2018–8 January 2019

approval by Parliament, 18 December 2018, and Parliament's reply to the Government, 8 January 2019

approval by the President, 18 January 2019

When the Act was adopted, Parliament required that the Government monitor the safety of the use of lightweight vehicles and the impacts of the regulation very closely and take immediate action if necessary.

The Ministry began the preparation of the government decrees on lightweight vehicles shortly after the approval of the Act. An open consultation round on the draft decrees took place from 3 May to 20 June 2019. The Ministry published a summary of the comments on 3 July 2019. Due to the situation described above, the drafting process of the decrees has been suspended.

Similarly, the technical requirements for lightweight vehicles laid down in regulations of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency have been open for comments from 3 May to 20 June 2019. The drafting process concerning the regulations has also been suspended due to the situation described above.

Two notifications from the Commission

On 24 September 2018, the EU Commission notified Finland for the first time of the legal provisions on lightweight vehicles. According to the notification, the proposed legislative amendments did not meet the requirements in the Union legislation, particularly in terms of driving licences. The previous Government and Parliament took note of the Commission's notification but considered that the proposed legislative amendments sufficiently reflected the interpretation practice of Union law. The legislative proposal was considered to be an appropriate way of achieving the objectives of the legislation on lightweight vehicles.

On 1 August 2019, the Commission issued the second notification to Finland on the draft government decrees relating to the lightweight vehicles acts and the regulations of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency. The contents of the notification are essentially the same as in the one issued during the drafting stages of the acts. However, in the new notification, the Commission has adopted a stricter interpretation of the application of the Driving Licence Directive to vehicles of the so-called tractor category.

What is a lightweight car?

The provisions on lightweight vehicles would allow a 15-year-old holder of a moped car licence (category AM121) to drive a lightweight vehicle that has been modified from a passenger car and inspected as such. The aim of the legislation is to improve the traffic safety of especially young people.

Lightweight cars are vehicles of category T1 that have been modified from M1 category vehicles, in other words passenger cars, taken into use no earlier than in 2015.

A lightweight car’s maximum structural speed has been limited to 60 kilometres per hour, and its mass when in driving condition can be at most 1,500 kg or at most 1,800 kg if the vehicle’s only power source is electricity.

What next?

The deadline for comments concerning the proposal on postponing the entry into force of the acts is 19 September 2019.

All organisations and private individuals may submit comments at www.lausuntopalvelu.fi.

The Ministry will also arrange a hearing for the stakeholders before the end of the consultation period.

Following the consultation round, the preparations will continue by Ministry officials. A decision on the postponement of the entry into force of the legislation on lightweight vehicles will be made by Parliament.

Inquiries:

Sini Wirén, Director of Unit, tel. +358 40 507 0916, Twitter @WirenSini

Aino Still, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 50 573 9433