Many constituents have written to me in recent months regarding proposed new EU regulations for motorbikes and motorcyclists. As a result I have taken an especial interest in this issue and have pressed the Commission to reconsider the proposals. I am glad that the Federation of European Motorcyclists felt I was able to help their cause in this way as I firmly believe that the EU should never restrict citizen’s freedoms without genuine justification. I feel that this particular development has actually managed to highlight nearly all of the usual issues that arise while making laws at the EU level, namely, insufficient consultation by the Commission of European citizens, wild misrepresentations of actual legislation within national medias and right wing eurosceptics trying to hop on every unpopular bandwagon without actually doing anything.
The proposals that are going through at the moment are actually very well intentioned, designed to make riding safer and some of them, like insisting that new bikes are fitted with warning systems similar to cars, can only be a good idea. However, others, like the anti-tampering measures, will actually do more harm than good. This is because many motorcyclists within the EU, not least in the UK, have strong traditions of building and modifying their own bikes and are often expert at it. The Commission has failed to convince me that simply because 0.7% of accidents are related to modifications the whole practice is inherently unsafe.
Of course, much of what is involved in the proposals has been grossly misrepresented. There have been rumours that the EU is forcing all motorcyclists to wear reflective clothing; this is absolutely not the case (although reflective clothing is in itself a good thing). It has also been propagated that the on-board safety alerts will be used as a justification for more police checks. Again, absolutely false. These are just examples of how anti-EU groups not only bend the truth but actively circulate falsehoods about the EU in order to garner support.
Now we come on to the issue of UKIP and how they are pretending to be the only group fighting for the rights of motorcyclists. This is categorically not true. They might have talked a lot about it and offered their “support” but given that they always abstain on every single vote in the Parliament how they plan to do that is not clear. This is the problem with not engaging with the Parliamentary system that pays you – you can’t influence it even when your constituents would want you to. Nor have UKIP tabled any amendments to the bill in order to remove the concerning aspects. Rather, that job has been left to Labour MEPs and our allies in the Socialist and Democrat party. Hopefully we should be able to put paid to the anti-tampering proposals and safeguard the freedom of British motorcyclists.