EU road traffic offence directive nearer

The Council of the European Union has moved a step closer to a new directive on the cross-border exchange of information about road traffic offences, with an agreement on its broad principles.

It means that the UK will be brought into the system.

It follows the Court of Justice’s annulment of the previous directive in May, on the grounds of an incorrect legal basis, because the measure was treated under EU power as police co-operation. Now, the new directive will be on the legal basis of transport safety.

In practice, nothing changes immediately as the Court granted a one-year reprieve (until 6 May 2015) to allow for adoption of the new directive. It means the current rules remain in effect.

Significantly, the change in legal basis means the directive will apply to all 28 EU member states. Currently, the UK, Ireland and Denmark, due to their special position with regard to police co-operation, are not taking part in this measure. As they will need to make an additional effort to put the system in place, ministers agreed that these countries should be given more time to adopt their national provisions: until May 2017 instead of May 2015.

The objective and scope of the directive remain unchanged. Member states may access each other’s vehicle registration data to track people liable for eight major road safety offences including speeding and drink driving.