French motorbike contrôle technique now ‘very probable’

Two-wheeled vehicles and licence-free cars will very likely require a CT, in the latest decision on the long-running saga – however, the requirement will not be immediate

A motorbike having a mechanical check in a garage
Two-wheeled vehicles may yet need a CT in France in the latest decision on the controversial issue
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Motorbikes and two-wheeled vehicles in France will ‘very probably’ need a contrôle technique (CT) after all, the transport minister has said – but it will not be enforced immediately.

The Conseil d’état, France’s highest administrative court, ruled on the issue yesterday (Monday, October 31), by cancelling the government’s earlier decision that waived the need for a CT.

Read more: Update: French motorbike contrôle technique decision overturned again

However, the calendar is not yet fixed on the issue, and uncertainty remains around the future application date.

No mechanic centres or garages are yet officially agreed as CT providers for two-wheeled vehicles, and the exact issues that a CT will cover have not yet been confirmed.

The Conseil cannot necessarily state the exact details of the requirement in any case, as the measure comes from a European Union directive dating back to 2014.

However, the Conseil’s decision is legally final, and does not offer the government or other parties the possibility of redress. It accused the government of showing an “excess of power” when it said that CTs would not be needed in France.

It also said that it regretted that there had not been a public consultation on the issue, given its possible direct and significant impact on the environment.

‘Playtime is over’

Environmental organisations have welcomed the decision.

Tony Renucci, CEO of Respire, said in a statement: “The Conseil d'état has blown the whistle at the end of playtime. The CT is finally in force and this is a victory for ecology and public health.”

Similarly, Gaël David, president of Ras Le Scoot, added: “The government is no longer in a position to play for time. It must stop seeing health and road safety as adjustment variables in its electoral calculations and take action.”

‘Alternative checks’

However, la Fédération française des motards en colère (FFMC) has not welcomed the move, after a long campaign calling for alternatives to CTs for two-wheelers.

The FFMC is now hoping that the European Commission may weigh in to change the decision yet again, after the federation presented a list of possible alternative measures to the CT, which was then passed on to the Commission.

MP Sacha Houlié has said on Twitter that he is to request an answer on the issue, saying: “Only the European Commission can judge if the alternative measures put in place by the state are enough to waive the contrôle technique.”

He added that the Conseil d’Etat was “going beyond its prerogatives” by making the decision in the meantime.

Suggested alternative measures include a reform of the motorbike driving licence, improved road infrastructure, and more rules on wearing protective clothing while riding. Motorbikes would also be subject to rules around the growing number of low- and zero-emission zones in France.

However, the Conseil has said that it does not believe that these alternative measures are sufficient to comply with the European Commission directives. The 2014 directive required the checks mainly to improve the safety of motorbike riders on the roads.

Eric Thollier, from FFMC, has said that the continual changes on the issue mean that “nothing is ready, the mechanics aren’t trained, the elements that will be checked aren’t known”.

He was speaking in spring this year, at a time when the CT had been set to come into force on October 1, before the government later revoked this in summer.

Similarly, Vincent Thommeret, general manager of Yamaha France, said that he doubted that a CT could go beyond a "visual check" under the current systems, due to a lack of checking equipment adapted to motorbikes.

He said: "We have doubts about the relevance of a technical inspection every two years, and we would rather recommend a conformity inspection at the time of a resale, so that dealers can validate the purchase of a second-hand two-wheeler by certifying its condition.”

However, Mr Thommeret has called on the government and police to instigate some form of mechanical checks, and said that a very small proportion of two-wheeler accidents are due to mechanical problems with non-compliant vehicles.

He said: “The police should carry out checks to combat the scourge of non-compliant motorbikes.”

‘Very probable’ CT

President Macron has previously said that he wants to avoid “adding constraints to the French people”, and had therefore been in favour of avoiding a CT on motorbikes. In 2021, he suspended a decree that would have required a CT.

In a statement, the government said: “This [latest] decision [from the Conseil d’Etat] will not lead to an immediate entry into force of the CT.”

Yet, despite the debate and many changes over the past few months, Minister of Transport Clément Beaune told France 2 that it is “very probable” that the government will introduce a CT for two-wheeled vehicles.

However, it will be as “least penalising” as possible, he said. “Its methods and the calendar remain to be confirmed, but there will be no immediate requirement. I think that we should be reasonable and proportionate,” he added.

A consultation will be launched by Mr Beaune with all the parties concerned in the next few days, to determine the measures to be implemented.

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 cars without a licence
  • 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 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”.

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