Government proposes to Parliament that entry into force of lightweight vehicle acts be postponed
On 26 September 2019, the Government submitted a proposal to Parliament that the entry into force of the acts on lightweight vehicles be postponed by one year till 1 November 2020. The aim is to find out within the year whether Finnish legislation on lightweight vehicles could be amended to follow the European Union legislation.
If no solution in accordance with the European Union legislation is found before the proposed date for the entry into force, it is possible that the Government will later propose that the acts on lightweight vehicles be repealed.
The postponement is related to the stricter position of the European Union Commission on applying the Driving Licence Directive to vehicles of the tractor category, in which the Finnish lightweight vehicles would be included. The entry into force of the current provisions involve a risk of infringement procedures by the EU Commission against Finland.
The decision to postpone the entry into force of the acts is also supported by the opinion of the Chancellor of Justice that does not, from a legal point of view, recommend the adoption of government decrees and regulations that implement acts, which according to the European Commission's assessment are incompatible with EU law. Due to the proposal to postpone the date of the acts' entry into force, the drafting process has been suspended.
All views supported in the comments
On 6 September 2019, the Ministry of Transport and Communications initiated an open consultation round on the Government proposal on postponing the entry into force of the acts on lightweight vehicles.
By the deadline, 19 September 2019, the Ministry received 41 comments. They were fairly evenly distributed among those in favour of the postponement of the entry into force, the repeal of the laws and the current date of the entry into force.
A narrow majority of the respondents were in favour of the postponement, if that could ensure road safety and bring the laws in line with EU law. Several comments also emphasised that discussions with the Commission on harmonising the laws with EU law should be initiated immediately.
The opinions supporting the repeal of the laws highlighted the negative impact of lightweight vehicles on road safety, flow of traffic and transport emission reduction targets, for example. The comments, which supported the entry into force of the laws as decided earlier, considered that the postponement would cause significant economic damage to a range of sectors, consumers and businesses.
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 the tractor 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 to 1,500 kg at most, or 1,800 kg at most when the vehicle's only power source is electricity.
The acts on lightweight vehicles as well as the decrees and regulations laid down under them were scheduled to enter into force on 1 November 2019.
The aim is for Parliament and the President of the Republic to approve the proposal for the postponement before the planned date of the entry into force of the current Act on 1 November 2019.
If the postponement will take place, the proposals for amending the laws will be prepared in close cooperation with stakeholders and the EU Commission. The aim is to examine as soon as possible whether a solution that would be in accordance with the Driving Licence Directive and meet the requirements of the Commission could be found. If such a solution is not found, it is possible that the Government will later propose that the laws on lightweight vehicles be repealed.
The proposal either to amend or repeal the acts should be submitted to Parliament for discussion before the new date for the Act's entry into force.
Aino Still, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 50 573 9433
Sini Wirén, Director of Unit, tel. +358 40 507 0916, Twitter @WirenSini
Press release of 28 August 2019: Notification from the Commission on Finnish legislation on lightweight vehicles
Government: Material for Government plenary sessions
Lausuntopalvelu.fi: Government proposal to Parliament for acts on the postponement of the entry into force of acts on lightweight vehicles (LVM/1406/03/2019)
Government’s project information service: Government proposal to Parliament for acts amending the Vehicle Act and the Act on Driving Licences and certain other related acts (LVM005:00/2018)