LEVA-EU advises the EC on ‘discrimination’ against EU e-Bike assemblers

LEVA-EU has been invited by the European Commission to present a solution to what it deems to be “discrimination” against EU-based bike assemblers, something which the association has now submitted for consideration.

Dominating the headlines at present, legislation adjustments and tariff confusion once again feature, with LEVA-EU making the case on behalf of European electric bike assemblers that obtaining end-use authorization is not functioning as it has been intended and in many cases the process of obtaining the authorisation is without deadline, stretching months without resolution.

As explained by LEVA-EU’s Annick Roetynck: “Originally, there was not really a problem because there were hardly any companies in Europe that assembled electric bikes only. That changed with the imposition of anti-dumping duties on e-bikes from China. Assemblers had to move their production out of China and some of them came to Europe. That is when it became clear how difficult it is to obtain end-use authorization.

“The worst part is that you cannot apply for end-use authorization unless you are already importing essential bicycle components and paying 48.5% duties on them. Also, there is no suspension of duty whilst the customs are checking out your application. Thus, a company has to have very significant resources to be able to cover this downright injustice.”

That tilting against the favour of smaller businesses is the crux of LEVA’s evidence submission back to the EU on the matter, which became amplified in October last year with the publication of Regulation 2020/1296, which the organisation says created the discrimination.

It is this piece of regulation LEVA says has now handed conventional bicycle makers a legal means to utilise their exemption for the import of essential bicycle components not only for conventional bicycles, but also for the use on electric bicycles. This exemption, LEVA-EU says, is valid indefinitely.

“Electric bike assemblers who don’t have assembly of conventional bikes have been wilfully excluded from this exemption by the Commission,” says Roetynck.

“When anti-circumvention measures were introduced in 1997, EU bike assemblers could apply for an exemption if they were able to prove that no more than 59% of the value of their product consisted of Chinese components. This procedure is with the Commission who granted most of the EU applicants the exemption. They have had the exemption ever since and it never gets really checked again. These companies used their Commission exemption to import essential bicycle components for both the assembly of conventional and electric bicycles. Everybody kind of knew that this was not exactly legal.”

Likely running counter to LEVA-EU’s hopes of an adjustment will be the European electric bike manufacturer’s wishes who may prefer that the rules remain as they are in a bid to maintain competitive pricing against far eastern goods.

On this note Roetynck flags the little noticed alteration of the rule of origin for Taiwan and other countries with non-preferential status, which she says happened “very quietly and without any transitional period.”

Amongst the evidence LEVA-EU has to hand it is aware of one company that put in an application and was denied two years later. To rub salt in the wounds the business was subsequently raided fr apparent circumvention on electric bike duties.

LEVA-EU submitted a proposal of amendments at the end of December following a meeting earlier int he month. The orgs proposal to the Commission now proposes to remove end-use authorisation and instead allow an electric bike assembler to apply directly for a Commission exemption. Existing end-use authorizations would be automatically turned into such exemptions.

Roetynck concludes: “We don’t know when the Commission will get back to us but we will continue to fight for justice and equality.”