The controversial introduction of the contrôle technique (CT) for two-wheeled vehicles and licence-free cars is proving complex to introduce in France despite its planned implementation in 2023, campaigners say.
The transport minister has said that the country is aiming to introduce the check from early next year.
However, one professional association said that the process will take at least two years to implement, and pro-motorbike campaigners have said there are still too many unanswered questions.
Timetable of ‘a few weeks’ discussed with air and noise associations
Transport Minister Clément Beaune has established a timetable for the measure’s introduction. This was developed with the Direction générale de l'énergie et du climat (DGEC), and noise and air quality associations Respire, Ras le Scoot, and Paris Sans Voiture.
Mr Beaune said that the implementation would take "a few weeks”, and would be in place before next summer.
BFMTV reported that one source had claimed: “The bill will be ready before the end of the year (2022), and there will be a public consultation in early 2023 for implementation at the end of the first trimester in 2023.”
Yet, this timeline has not yet been officially confirmed by the transport ministry.
Conseil d’État ruling
France’s highest administrative court the Conseil d’État ruled in October that France must introduce a CT for two-wheeled vehicles, after a series of disagreements and changes to the measure. The court said that not having a CT in place would contravene a 2014 European directive.
Despite the court’s decision, the implementation of the measure is still unclear in some respects. It is not yet certain what the CT will include, how many specialised garages will be specified in France, nor how many mechanics will be trained in the CT specifically.
It has also not been decided when mechanics will receive CT training, which tools they will need, and what software will be used to help.
When asked by BFMTV, Mr Beaune said: “Consultation is underway with relevant parties, which will enable us to define the exact parameters of the contrôle technique.”
More than 1.5 million vehicles will be affected by the change.
The price of the CT is expected to be decided by the garages themselves, “although this will be moderated”, the minister said.
The measure has attracted fierce criticism from pro-motorbike groups. Mr Beaune met with two motorbike associations on November 9, but none of their suggested alternative measures were adopted.
Didier Renoult, spokesperson for the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC), told BFM Business: “The minister did not give us any specific dates, but left us little hope given the decision of the Conel d’Etat. But we won’t give up. This measure is useless.”
The FFMC is set to hold demonstrations against the measure on Saturday and Sunday, November 26 and 27.
Mr Renoult continued: “This CT makes no sense. What are they going to check? The noise? Safety elements? That's what you learn at your driving test, and something you do every morning before taking your motorcycle out to avoid killing yourself.
“We are not going to pay €30 to have someone do this every two or four years, it’s absurd!”
Vincent Thommeret, general manager of Yamaha France and president of la Chambre Syndicale Internationale de l'Automobile et du Motocycle (CSIAM), has also raised issues with the proposed plan.
He said: "We would rather recommend a conformity check on resale so that dealers can check, for example, the purchase of a used two-wheeler by certifying its safety.”
Some garages have also asked questions. La Fédération Nationale de l'Automobile (FNA) has so far said that “many questions remain unanswered on the decree’s implementation”. It has called for a “responsible and reasonable introduction and approach during the consultation”.
The FNA has even said that it will be “impossible” for the CT to be ready to implement during the first quarter of 2023.
Emilie Repusseau, deputy secretary general of the FNA, has estimated that "it will take about two years” to establish clear regulations on the checks, to get approval from local prefectures, to train mechanics, and acquire equipment across enough garages.
She said: “We don't even know who will have to move the vehicle, the owner or the mechanic, given that when it comes to pollution, the size of the driver and the engine capacity both play a role in emissions.”
Attacks on activists condemned
Despite their disagreement on the CT, the FFMC has condemned recent internet attacks on Tony Renucci, the head of air pollution activist group Respire.
Mr Renucci has been the subject of an internet harassment campaign, and has received racist and hateful comments, and even death threats, as a result of the ongoing CT controversy.
Mr Renoult, of FFMC, said: “These internet users are not part of our association, because our values are based on sharing public space and respecting others. These activists made a complaint [about these comments], and rightfully so.”
The CT for two-wheeled vehicles: A timeline
July 2021: European directive imposes a CT on two- and three-wheeled motor vehicles over 125 cm3, in a bid to reduce accidents and pollution
August 11, 2021: France publishes a decree introducing, from January 1 2023 (not from January 1, 2022 as set by European law) a requirement for a CT every two years on all two-wheelers, and licence-free cars
August 12, 2021: President Macron says that “now is not the time to annoy the French”, and has the decree suspended
May 17, 2022: The Conseil d’État issues a ruling in which it considers that a postponement of the CT obligation is "not justified" beyond October 1, 2022
July 26, 2022: The government responds by repealing the August 2021 decree, effectively cancelling the CT for two-wheelers. It argues that a clause in European legislation allows it to take alternative measures
October 31, 2022: The Conseil d’État challenges this July decree, and says that the cancellation of the CT should only have been done after a public consultation. It says that the measures suggested by the government and motorbike federations as an alternative to the CT “do not comply” with European requirements.
The Conseil has added that the measures do not comply either "because they are only at the draft stage, or because they do not make it possible to improve the safety of motorcyclists on the road in a sufficiently effective or significant way”.