I should have known better because no sooner had these words gone to print than exactly this happened. I am, of course, referring to the wonderful S-mark legislation (also known as regulation 2001/43), which has become the subject of so much coverage in Tyres & Accessories recently. Apparently, tyres won’t necessarily need an S-mark to comply with regulation 2001/43 and, er, be S-marked.
However, it doesn’t end there. The latest from the Department for Transport is that there has been a “delay in putting into place the statutory instrument which is required for the new S-marking regulations to become law.” In short, there won’t be any means of enforcing the new law in the U.K. until March 2010. This fact doesn’t affect the other European markets, which will all have to comply by the original Oct. 1 deadline.
While this loophole provides further time to clear stocks of non-S-marked tyres, the new deadline is seen as the last chance saloon and the “Vehicle Certification Agency and Trading Standards will be vigorously enforcing the law which has penalties of up to £5,000 fine on each tyre sold” from March 2010. Therefore, the NTDA is warning members not to buy any non s-marked stock, which could come into the U.K. from European countries (such as Germany, France and Holland) that have to comply with the Oct. 1 deadline.
In addition, as you have probably heard by now, the European Commission has modified its interpretation of regulation 2001/43 so dealers with compliant but non-S-marked stock will be able to sell them under the following circumstances (see below). While the new system is clearly not a self-certification system, this decision (made on July 6) does offer much-needed clarification and flexibility to the market. However, this is also being challenged through the commission’s “commentology” process, challenges T&A understands the ruling is unlikely to survive.
Nevertheless, here’s the situation as it currently stands. According to the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association (ETRMA), the following stipulations constitute the commission’s final decision and no physical S-marking will be required if: Each type of tyre is submitted to a test to show compliance with the noise requirements set out in Directive 2001/43/EC; a test report is produced (by the tyre manufacturers, in the event they are accredited as technical services, or by any other accredited technical service) and validated by a type-approval authority (not necessarily the same who delivered the original type-approval); and if each tyre sold is accompanied by a certificate summarising the information contained in the test report.
Crucially, this additional legal leeway only applies to tyres produced by week 40 of 2009. And, in order to prevent possible abuses, member states committed on July 6 to send a letter to the national retailers’ associations urging them not to buy any tyre which would not bear the S-marking according to Directive 2001/43/EC.
However, at this stage it is not at all clear if the above compromise will be ratified come September. As for me, this month I am keeping my mouth closed. (Chris Anthony – Tyres & Accessories/Staffordshire, U.K.)