The independent aftermarket is celebrating after the European Commission adopted a new sector-specific Block Exemption Regulation last month.
With just days to go before the previous competition rules expired, the new BER with supplementary guidelines was passed into law. It came into force on June 1, 2010.
The new rules, which were agreed to by the Commission after three years of intensive lobbying by the pan-European Right to Repair Campaign, are intended to increase competition in repair and maintenance by improving access to technical information for independents and by making it easier to use alternative spare parts.
The rules will also allow the Commission to tackle vehicle manufacturersâ€™ abuse of warranties when they request that cars are serviced only in authorised garages.
Industry commentators welcomed the new rules. However, they warned that the fight for full access to technical information is not yet over.
In order for independent operators to gain access to the information classified as â€œsecurity dataâ€, they will need to prove they are reputable and undertake not to misuse it.
David Moran, head of Independents at the Retail Motor Industry Federation, told CAT: â€œWhat we need to establish through the Commission and the vehicle manufacturers is, what exactly needs to be accredited. Part of this should be about ensuring the safety and security of the information and of the product, but at the moment, itâ€™s a grey area.â€