Driving license reform.  MEPs request medical examination every 15 years

Driving license reform. MEPs request medical examination every 15 years

In the European Parliament, an amendment imposing compulsory medical examinations for driving license holders was rejected. Story of a battle.

One hundred days before the European elections, MEPs have spared themselves a great controversy. The driving license reform, voted on February 28, constituted one of the most controversial measures before the final plenary session from April 22 to 25. The stakes were high: one of the amendments proposed imposing, every fifteen years, a medical test on driving license holders, a constraint which would have disrupted the daily lives of millions of motorists. But if the directive was adopted as a whole, this specific measure was rejected by 323 votes against, 270 for. Instead, elected officials preferred a self-assessment of driving ability. A look back at the twists and turns in the development of a European law.

Initially, it is a question of responding to a double objective set by the European Commission: zero casualties on the roads by 2050 and harmonization of rules in an area where free movement is the norm. In March 2023, the institution formulates a bill, a prerogative that it is the only one to have. “The Commission then consulted citizen groups, NGOs and even driving schools before proposing a text,” explains Dominique Riquet, of the Renew Europe group.

It is during this preparatory phase that the lobbies go on the offensive. In order to influence Parliament, the various motorist defense associations very early on opposed the principle envisaged, at this stage, of restrictive medical appointments. From October 2023, the Drivers’ Defense League publishes an online petition to demand the withdrawal of this measure. The initiative gathered 432,000 signatures the week of the vote in Strasbourg. “For every 100,000 signatures, we sent an awareness message to French-speaking MPs by email to put pressure on them,” confides Alexandra Legendre, communications manager of the association.

At the same time, its representatives are taking over the media and warning about the isolation that a medical examination every fifteen years would cause for elderly people deprived of their license. “This text was very quickly identified politically, on the right and the extreme right, as a file to be taken down, a symbolic victory to be obtained against “the leftists who prevent us from driving””, confides a collaborator of the group Les Verts, who requires anonymity and blames this defeat on motorist lobbies.

The measure of discord

Once the text has been drawn up by the Commission, which then recommends “a more targeted assessment of medical fitness, which takes into account the progress made in the medical treatment of diseases such as diabetes”, it is examined by the deputies of the European Parliament. It is under the leadership of the text’s rapporteur, Karima Delli, from the Les Verts group (EELV), that the obligation of a health examination is added.

With the other members of the assembly’s transport committee, she amended the text proposed by the Commission. “Initially, we offered medical examinations more and more frequently as the drivers aged,” explains Dominique Riquet. We had to backtrack to find a compromise. » Because in the European Parliament, everyone must let go, no group having a majority on its own. Finally, within the Transport Committee, the deputies found an agreement, albeit on the edge: within one vote. It now remains to obtain the approval of a majority of deputies in the chamber.

Not within the jurisdiction of the EU?

However, different parliamentary groups have expressed their opposition. “For us, defining a regular medical examination was not within the remit of the European Union,” explains Philippe Olivier (Identity and Democracy, National Rally). An argument also shared by European parliamentarians, European People’s Party-Les Républicains, who say they refuse a Europe that “complicates people’s lives”. Rejected by the right and the far right, the text was also rejected by the Left Group (Insoumis) MEPs who all voted against it on February 28.

Defeated in Strasbourg, the defenders of compulsory medical examination cling to the hope of a revenge in Paris. Karima Delli underlined that three French parties (EELV, Socialist Party, Renaissance) voted in the European Parliament in favor of this amendment. Such a coalition in the National Assembly would be enough to have this measure already in force in 14 European states for seniors adopted in France. MP Bruno Millienne (MoDem) formulated a bill to this effect last July. The Minister of Transport at the time, Clément Beaune, made known his opposition to this initiative which was unsuccessful.

Driving license: the number

14 countries in the European Union already require a medical examination for seniors.

Source: AFP.

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