Today, the Conseil d’État found that the French government's decision of 25 July 2022 to repeal a decree requiring the testing of two-wheeled motor vehicles for roadworthiness (contrôle technique) initially adopted in August 2021, was unlawful. Indeed, the measures proposed since then by the government to derogate from the European roadworthiness testing obligation do not comply with the requirements of Directive 2014/45/EU of 3 April 2014, because they are only at the planning stage or because they do not adequately and significantly improve the safety of riders on the road. In a ruling handed down today, the initial governmental decree of August 2021, which implemented the roadworthiness test for two-wheeled motor vehicles, comes back into force.
With the adoption of Directive 2014/45/EU of 3 April 2014, European law made it obligatory for member states to implement periodic roadworthiness testing for motorbikes, mopeds and licence-free cars with a capacity above 125 cubic centimetres from 1 January 20221. The member states of the European Union may deviate from that obligation if they have put in place alternative and effective road safety measures, taking account of relevant road safety statistics.
The government had planned to implement roadworthiness testing for two-wheeled motor vehicles on 9 August 2021, but had set its effective date after the deadline of 1 January 2022 required under European law, namely on 1 January 2023 for vehicles registered before 2016 and staggered dates between 2024 and 2026 for vehicles registered after 20162.
After an emergency suspension by the urgent applications judge3 on 27 July 2022, the Conseil d’État annulled the schedule set by the government4 since it pushed back the application date set by the Directive of 3 April 2014. In this substantive ruling, the Conseil d’État found that the government had selected the roadworthiness testing obligation and not the use of alternative measures, which made it obligatory for it to apply such testing from 1 January 2022 to ensure compliance with European Law. After finally deciding to opt for the use of alternative measures aimed at improving road safety, the Prime Minister repealed the decree of August 2021 in a new decree dated 25 July 20225.
Three voluntary organisations (Respire, Ras-le-Scoot and Paris Sans Voiture) petitioned the Conseil d’État for an annulment of the decision to repeal and the restoration of the implementation of roadworthiness testing for two-wheeled motor vehicles with a capacity above 125 cubic centimetres3.
Today’s ruling by the Conseil d’État annuls the decree of 25 July 2022 on the basis of two grounds of illegality.
The withdrawal of roadworthiness testing should have been submitted to public consultation in view of its direct and significant effect on the environment
The Conseil d’État found that the withdrawal of the periodic roadworthiness testing obligation for two-wheeled motor vehicles should have been preceded by the participation of the public in accordance with the legal provisions enacted under the environmental charter incorporated into the French Constitution, as it has a direct and significant effect on the environment. The movement of two-wheeled motor vehicles has harmful environmental effects, including air and noise pollution, particularly in urban areas. Furthermore, the roadworthiness testing obligation under the directive is aimed at not merely improving road safety, but also the environmental, by reducing the air and noise pollution caused by the poor condition of some two-wheeled motor vehicles.
The Conseil d’État further censured substantive illegality, as the alternative measures were not considered sufficiently effective in improving safety for riders on the road in view of the requirements of the directive
The Conseil d’État found that the alternative measures proposed by the government, and used to justify the repeal of mandatory roadworthiness testing, could not be regarded as effective road safety measures within the meaning of European law. While some of the measures put forward pursue legitimate goals, they are not those provided for in the provisions of the directive governing the possibility of waiving roadworthiness testing, such as the reduction of noise or pollutant emissions. Other measures cannot usefully be taken into account as they are still at the planning stage or are currently no more than ideas. Lastly, the measures that specifically address road safety are limited in number and cannot be regarded as sufficiently effective in view of the directive's requirements, which aims to reduce mortality relating to the use of two-wheeled motor vehicles. The road safety statistics available show that road traffic mortality concerning riders of two-wheeled motor vehicles is particularly high in France in absolute terms compared to other European countries.
On these grounds, the Conseil d’État today annulled the decree of 25 July 2022 repealing the decree of 9 August 2021 implementing roadworthiness testing, on the grounds of misuse of power. Due to this annulment, the decree providing for roadworthiness testing of two-wheeled motor vehicles is reinstated.
The effective implementation of the decree of 9 August 2021 may legally be accompanied by implementing measures providing for staggered implementation of the roadworthiness testing system or differentiation based on the age of the vehicle, citing the implementation conditions for such testing, including in respect of the technical standards and the approval of roadworthiness testing centres.