What happens to bikers if we leave the European Union? Over the years, the EU has been involved with – or blamed for – legislation connected to everything from border controls and import duties to the riding test and horsepower limits. What will happen if we vote to say in or stay out?
If you never take your bike to Europe, very little. Instead of the European Union making regulations for bikes with their unelected Eurocrats, unelected Whitehall bureaucrats will draft equally helpful regulations.
Some very useful rules for motorcyclists have come from Europe, like much of the insurance law we have. The way British insurance works now is a lot fairer to the consumer than it was before April 2012 – a European directive means insurers can’t now wriggle out of paying out on fully comprehensive policies because of technical “non-disclosures”. The traditional English common law position was that you had to tell your insurer everything, whether you were asked to or not. That was a real problem for bikers and resulted in claims for stolen bikes being rejected for bikes that had, for example, hard luggage or sat navs fitted.
Apart from that, and a growing EU plan to make compensation available if motorcyclists are injured by collisions with cyclists, I am struggling to find very much help that has come from the European Union to bikers who do not leave these shores. European emissions legislation will have little impact on British bikers, in or out of the EU, as bikes will be built to international standards. The EU may have forced the pace on things like catalytic converters and emissions testing, but the UK government is already committed to the reduction of carbon dioxide and pollutants at a greater rate than most other European nations. Leaving the EU is unlikely to make any difference to this for the foreseeable future.
However, if we leave the European Union then travelling to Europe is likely to become much more difficult. If we leave the EU I fear it is going to be a messy divorce and the European Union will punish us. It will be a fair while before new arrangements are put in place to, for example, recognise UK insurance without an international driving insurance green card. Under-40s will never have carried a green card but they used to cost about £12 and were necessary to take any UK vehicle outside the UK and Ireland. As these will be sold to us by our insurers, expect to pay handsomely for them.
Your European Citizen’s health card will be void, so you will need insurance or a credit card for any European hospital treatment. If you are injured overseas, you will have to bring your claim overseas – so if you are injured in Germany you will have to instruct German lawyers to recover your losses, whereas now this can be done in your home court by English lawyers. The “No win, no fee” arrangement is pretty well unknown in Europe and if you cannot pay your lawyer, they won’t work for you.
There is a solid chance you will have to fill in exit and entry paperwork at every European border, which can take several hours. If the remaining countries want to be nice to us most of the problems will be ironed out, but movement of non-EU citizens (which is what we will be) is a real problem in Europe, and I would expect significant delays at border crossings.
I suspect that once the original unpleasantness of an EU exit is dealt with, after a few years arrangements will settle down. However, with a number of EU nations becoming much more insistent about checks on non-EU citizens entering the European Union, we as British nationals are likely to be subjected to much the same rigour getting into the EU as people from North Africa, Russia and former Soviet states.
RiDE Magazine May 2016