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Europe: Confusion With Motorcycle Licenses

  Posted at 12:00:00 PM
  File under  News Opinion Safety
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France
click to see where Europe is on the map

French driving license
For those that think that Europe is one entity, let's dispel that thought. It's anything but one. Europe are individual countries, with individual practices and more importantly, individual interests. If a common European practice is in harmony with a national interest, then it might be applied. But the initial dream of having a unified Europe, with common laws, goals and practices is far from being achieved.

One case. The European motorcycle manufacturer association & lobby group, ACEM Open link in a new window, have been fighting for a Europe-wide motorcycle license, one that has the same norms anywhere in Europe. But instead of a Europe-wide harmony, it's going the other way - total chaos.

Spain, three years before any application of the new license laws could go into application, passed the proposed European Driving Licence Directive (2006/126/EC). Great you say... that's one country down, 27 to go. But this before any other European country could validate the new license. Apart from very strict, and even unnecessary, training hours (for example, a trainee must ride 500 kms for the A2 test), the biggest problem, and Spain acknowledges and even warns its bikers, other countries may not even accept the Spanish motorcycle license. This means that Spanish bikers can not ride abroad!

In France, a recent law being passed, allows you to continue riding your motorcycle on a full license only if you can show that you have been riding for 5 years. The only way the French government proposes that you prove you have been riding, is by showing 5 years of motorcycle insurance. This means that if you ride a company motorcycle (like couriers, or motorcycle taxi), or only rent/lease motorcycles, you'll loose your full license, and will need to do the exams again.

ACEM are asking the European Commission to do something about this. The goal of Europe is to have unified laws, and it's just not happening. Jacques Compagne, ACEM Secretary General stated: “ACEM always welcomes measures aimed at improving road safety but it cannot be asked to support ill thought out initiatives that go in the direction of discouraging users to take to PTWs. The application of the 3rd Driving Licence Directive can improve the access of users to PTWs, but adding more illogical provisions to the ones foreseen in the Directive only indicates an effort to oust PTW use instead of seeing it as a real opportunity to make traffic more fluid and reduce travel times and pollution.  ACEM expects the European Commission to take its responsibility and address these issues with the Member States”. 

Europe is a pipe-dream...Good idea, very bad execution.


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