In Finland, the European Commission is still expected to provide guidance on the conditions under which slow car legislation could enter into force. The matter is already beginning to be rushed, but due to the coronary virus and legal complexity, the Commission has still not received a clear answer.

- The Ministry of Transport and Communications has been in contact with the Commission since the winter, and especially this spring. We have also had negotiations with the Commission, but there, in Brussels, the response has been very slow, says Sini Wirén, head of the ministry's unit.

According to him, the Commission has had a willingness to negotiate. The negotiations have gone into technical and legal details. However, no solutions have yet been found. Wirén adds that Finland has been a more active party.

The Commission's policy is in a hurry, as the slow car legislation of Juha Sipilä's (central) government will enter into force already in November. The law was due to enter into force in November last year, but last autumn the then Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin (sd) postponed its entry into force for one year, as the EU Commission pointed out to Finland that the legislation did not comply with EU regulations.

Wirén says that some kind of legislative change is needed before November, as the law, which will come into force in November, is clearly contrary to EU law.

- Of course, such a situation is not appropriate in an EU member state. Some kind of change in the law by November is needed, be it a change in the law or repeal of the law, Wirén says.

He adds that amending the law is a multi-month process with rounds of opinions and constitutional requirements.

Postponement would further increase uncertainty

If no direct reply is received from the Commission soon, Finland may postpone the entry into force of the legislation or repeal the entire law. However, the postponement would further increase uncertainty for consumers and the car industry.

- There are many who are waiting and wondering what kind of car they will buy for their child who will soon be 15 years old. Automotive companies, for their part, expect what kind of cars will be sold in the coming months and what kind of business there is, Wirén says.

When the motion for slow car legislation came along, the moped deal went almost on ice. Last year, 61 mopeds were first registered, and by May this year, 59 had been made. In 2011–2012, well over a thousand first registrations were made. According to the Automotive Information Center, the decline is due to reasons other than slow car legislation.

"This is a significant exception to EU law"

According to Wirén, a postponement might be quite appropriate if it were known that at some point a concrete solution would come from the Commission. At present, however, the situation is still unclear.

There are many reasons why the Commission has not yet received a response. According to Wirén, the legislation is a legally difficult case, as it is a significant exception to EU law.

- If a new type of vehicle is introduced in Finland, it may mean that another country requires the same. If similar cars were to be introduced even in France, it would be a much bigger issue from an EU political point of view, Wirén says.

Another big reason is Korona, as the Commission has largely focused on corona-related tasks during the corona pandemic.

- Nationally, this is a very big thing for Finland, but the Commission is responsible for 28 different countries. It may not be in their priorities in exactly the same way what kind of vehicles young people drive in Finland.

It was originally intended for slow cars to travel 60 miles per hour

Allowing slow cars is intended to remove frivolous mopeds from you. Slow cars are ordinary cars with a limited speed. They would be aimed at young people aged 15-17 who do not yet have a car driving license. The maximum speed should be limited to 60 kilometers per hour.

Last year, the Commission raised concerns about the impact of new vehicles on road safety. The remark also raised concerns that light cars should be able to carry five people at a time and tow a trailer.

Slow cars were to be classified in the same vehicle category as tractors. However, according to the EU, they do not meet the requirements for a tractor card, as they are primarily intended for the transport of passengers. On the other hand, they also do not meet the requirements for mopeds. The Commission is also concerned about the impact of slow cars on road safety. Young drivers can pose a serious danger to pedestrians, for example.

The amendment was initiated by Anne Berner (center), Minister of Transport and Communications of the Sipilä Government.

In Sweden, for example, the issue has been resolved by allowing young people to drive modified A-tractors from cars. A-tractors may travel up to 30 kilometers per hour, have limited acceleration, have only one or two seats in addition to the driver, and must have a towbar.