EU crackdown on unbranded car parts?

What might the UK Government's response be to the new EU legislation - the "Block exemption rules"? We understand the UK Government can step in and overrule new EU legislation under a post Brexit agreement.
But could there be any consequences for the classic car sector in the UK?

Posted: 210721
A news item seen in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday 20th July 2021, reported a possible EU crackdown on unbranded car parts in changes to the EU "block exemption rules". It was suggested UK drivers might face a £2.4bn bill from this new EU legislation. See a copy of the news item

Will it affect the classic car sector?
At this early stage the feeling from a specialist classic car replacement parts and services supplier is "this would
mainly relate to vehicles where the manufacturer still supports the provision of parts, which for the vast majority of classic cars none do. Classic MGs like MGBs are pretty well served with replacement parts, the majority of which are from the parts aftermarket with the exception of the body panels and shells from BMH at Witney for MGBs and Midgets. In truth the EU crackdown (which is not new) seems to me to be protectionism for the manufacturers who will argue that its their money that has funded the original design of the car and some of the parts and therefore they have a right to it for ever more. Allowing them to charge in a majority of cases very considerable sums for the parts. That’s probably why aftermarket parts suppliers are seizing the moment to see if they can get the UK Government to have a different stance, particularly as they deal mainly in parts for modern cars not the classics!"

Another comment on the news item
This is ambiguous - does 'branded' mean sold by the original manufacturer or sold by a reputable manufacturer? Companies like Lemforder and Valeo supply car manufacturers in the first instance and will also supply them with spare parts, but also sell the same parts under their own name at a lower price than the manufacturers, so it would be very anti-competitive if that were not allowed. The previous EU rulings were designed to open up the market, so it is to be hoped they are not back tracking on that. For the classic car market it would of course be absurd to require spare parts only to be supplied by the original manufacturer who may no longer exist or not be interested in supplying parts for models long out of production.

The new EU competition law framework for the automotive aftermarket
The current position is set out in this document released in 2010. More
Following the expiry of the Block Exemption Regulation No. 1400/2002 on 31st May 2010, the European Commission has introduced a new competition law framework for the automotive sector focusing on aftermartket issues. Applied in the market since the 1st June 2010, these new rules are enacted in four key legal instruments :
• the Automotive Block Exemption Regulation (EU) No. 461/2010
• the sector-specific Guidelines on vertical restraints in agreements for the sale and repair of motor vehicles and for the distribution of spare parts for motor vehicles
• the Vertical Restraints Block Exemption Regulation (EU) No. 330/2010
• the general Guidelines on vertical agreements

These rules will apply until the 31st May 2023. They cover the trade in spare parts for and the repair and maintenance of all self propelled vehicles with more than 3 wheels (e.g. passenger cars, light commercial vehicles and heavy duty vehicles). While the new rules are particularly important to illustrate what vehicle manufacturers may or may not do, they also affect the agreements concluded between independent aftermarket operators.

What has the EU Commission done?
The EU Commission has issued a report on this area and for anyone who enjoys wading through the jungle of EU Commission documents you can see the report here. It does not recommend any changes in this area, but our contact in Brussels will try to find out more. There is a suspicion that a parts supplier may be starting a scare to dissuade the EU Commission from even thinking about it.