EU Plan to Alter UK Number Plates

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Officials in Brussels are reported to want to standardise car number plates across the region to make it easier to re-register cars abroad and, potentially, help to reduce fraud.

There are already freedom of movement agreements in place, but the EU is trying to make it even easier to travel across borders and, crucially, take your car with you.

The idea is to introduce a standard colour for number plates within the EU, and cut red tape around registering cars abroad. According to Auto Express, the plans have already been watered down from the initial proposals, which called for a single number plate design across the EU. However, Brussels may yet seek power to add ID tags and institute further standardisation that would help governments prevent crime and track criminals using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software.

Currently, the diversity of number plate formats means that the UK government cannot accurately judge how many cars are within its borders, or monitor all road traffic offences, so the move would also enable closer monitoring of imports and help fraud prevention.

However, Eurosceptics are bemoaning the perceived assault on Britain's right to choose its own design. Conservative MEP Syed Kamall told The Daily Express, “British motorists want British number plates – not European ones. Conservative MEPs will be fighting this idiotic plan all the way.” Matthew Elliott of pressure group Business for Britain added that, "It is unnecessary, meddling regulations like these which really infuriate business people and the general public alike."

Also aggrieved by the proposals are the government departments and small businesses who run a roaring trade in expensive personalised number plates, which have not been addressed in the current plans.

A European Commission spokeswoman said the plans were drawn up in response to complaints about the time and cost of registering vehicles following a cross-border trade.


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