Among the many topics on the agenda, the meeting that would soon take place with the European Commission's top management on access to in-car data, took centre stage during the EGEA Autumn Meeting, held on October 6. The Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, in fact, in an attempt to get a clear picture of the issue, summoned the presidents of the ten largest trade associations, including, of course, EGEA, represented by its President, Thierry Coton.
It is worth saying a word about the fact that a European Commissioner is taking a personal interest in a problem that at first glance might mistakenly seem of little importance; the road haulage sector, which proved to be so strategic during the Covid-19 pandemic, plays a central social role in Europe and relies on efficient maintenance and repair services for its continuous and safe operation. Repair services, in turn, must be able to guarantee the quality, reliability, capillarity and competitiveness needed in a continent where high social standards require free and advanced mobility making it one of the pillars in the construction of European unity, something the rest of the world envies. The associations did well to remind Commissioner Breton of the full range of connected activities involved: this is a sector that employs about 4.5 million workers in about half a million companies, mostly small and medium-sized, with a turnover, for the aftermarket alone, of over 225 billion euro a year in components and services. Without an efficient and competitive aftermarket, the whole mobility sector would plunge into chaos, and here we are talking about almost 14 million workers who use, operate or assist about 328 million vehicles. The point is that the competitive, innovative and widespread car repair needed for an increasingly green and safe mobility, EGEA argues, can only be achieved through a network of independent workshops able to compete on equal terms with official networks. But this will never happen if there are excessive and discriminatory impediments or burdens on accessing on-board data (see "Egea meets the European Commission on access to the Obd port", Autoattrezzati, Pneurama 3/2020), thus favouring manufacturers and their networks. Added to this is the presence of giants such as Google, Apple and Amazon who, in agreement with car manufacturers, have introduced IT service platforms that, in turn, increase the risk of market dominance. To avoid this, a sector-specific legislation is needed to safeguard free competition, also a European pillar.
The subject is certainly not new and has been repeatedly discussed at various levels within the Commission. The direct involvement of Commissioner Breton bodes well for a political awareness of the problem that will give a renewed impetus to the activities. Returning to the autumn EGEA Assembly, held on a web platform, further discussions involved the activities of the major European trade fairs, Automechanika, Autopromotec and Equip'Auto, all of which will take place in 2022. Many of the participants observed that the three main European fairs of the industry take place in the same year, and this is not viewed positively. Therefore, the associations voiced their hope for an agreement between the organizers that would allow to return to holding the events in alternate years, or pre-Covid style. In addition to the normal work and activities of the Association, the most important news for EGEA is the acquisition of a new member representing another European country. Marinković Hofmann represents Serbia, a country that, although not a member of the EU, like many others looks to EU laws and rules as important guidelines to be followed or adopted. As President Coton underlined, the acquisition of new members confirms the vitality of EGEA and its ability to renew itself to be able to face future challenges.