The texts about cars with the EU number plates are not surprising anymore – almost every title has published at least some information where activists argue with opponents of  “cheap” cars. But there are a number of questions with no answers. Opinion found out how many European license plates are in fact in Ukraine, how to determine their exact number, how all conflicts can be resolved, whether the latest bills would be effective and is it the true or false that cars with the EU license plates that literally “attract” traffic accidents.

How many cars with foreign license plates are there in Ukraine?

The question about the number of cars with the EU license plates in Ukraine is still open and draws much attention. According to the most frequently occurring information about the actual number of such cars is far from the official data, and even bigger. In comments to Opinion, Olena Chepizhko, “Eurocar” ’s Chairwoman of the Board, said that the number of cars with European license plates is getting bigger every year, and the number of vehicles in Ukraine, that is under the counter increased by 6 times for the last year.

“Unfortunately for today, it is a shame to state that the problem has assumed menacing proportions. According to the State Fiscal Service, by the end of April 2018, over 113 thousand cars are actually in transit in Ukraine, almost all of them (110 thousand, that is, 97%) have already violated the terms of stay.

The actual number of sojourned cars in Ukraine is 364 thousand, 207 thousand of them are with violated terms. Thus, there are 317 thousand cars with foreign license plates, which stay in Ukraine illegally. In comparison – the year before (as of the end of June 2017) there were 52 thousand such cars. So, less than in a year, the number of violators of the current legislation has increased by 6 times”, the expert explained.

How to find the exact number?

Olena  Drozdova, Ph.D. in law, attorney and the head of “Drozdova & partners” law firm, assured the Opinion that to get the full understanding of the situation, we need the special inspection to be provided by customs service. In addition, the police should get the full access to the common database, formed on a new theoretical method, as customs officers and border guards are limited in their powers by the territory.

“The establishment of the special control for checking the reason of the property law or the right of use of a particular car, the name and information about the owner, and most importantly to indicate the date and place of crossing the customs border of Ukraine, as well as the return date of the car to the EU territory would probably help.  It would be appropriate to highlight the cars, which are given to drivers under the power of POA, with a different color and to put them into a separate column with the final date of the annual duration of its stay.

This should be done by the customs services, as they are the first who get in contact with everyone who is crossing the state border, and moreover, have access to databases. This system was proposed by the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Taxation and Customs Policy. The committee also proposed to provide access to this database to the police, which gave them the opportunity to check all drivers who have a car with European license plate, because the customs officers and border guards jurisdiction “area” is limited by the border and customs control”, the speaker convinced.

What are the possible ways of resolving the problem of the cars with the EU license plates?

According to Olena Chepizhko, the most important thing in the situation with the cars with the EU license plates is to ensure the tightest control over the implementation of laws, which would demonstrate that the law is same for everyone, that is, the fundamental truth of any European country.

“Considering the social exertion that has risen at the moment because of the cars with the EU license plates it was clear that a compromise is inevitable because maintaining the status quo brings the situation to a dead end.

A more important thing in this situation is to provide the tight control over the implementation of laws on the regulation of the import of pre-owned cars. After all, the law must be one for everyone – this is the fundamental truth of any democratic European country. The country must ensure equal conditions for all citizens and strictly control the implementation of the current legislation. And if the state makes concessions, it is necessary to involve as much effort as possible in order to ensure fulfillment of the proposed conditions and to prevent further import violations”, Olena Chepizhko explained.

Why are cars cheaper in Europe?

Most activists, appealing for low car prices in the EU, obviously do not take into account the cost of servicing and, in fact, ownership of the car. But it is these factors that make Europeans refuse old cars and buy new ones. By the way, the old ones, later, find themselves in Ukraine with Polish and Lithuanian license plates.

The main activists’ slogan “We want cars just like in Europe” is caused by the fact that cars in Europe are cheaper because fees and taxes are lower. However, at the same time they forget or do not want to mention that the car services in the developed European countries are not cheap.

Taking into account compulsory insurance, taxes (car ownership tax, environmental tax on CO2 emissions), vehicle inspection, fuel, parking, road fees, regular maintenance, tyre replacement and other factors, the overall cost of car usage in Europe is several thousand euros per year.

The older the car becomes, the bigger cost of its maintenance. Thus, in the EU countries, the old car services are unprofitable. And when the point of no-return is reached,  the car falls into the sphere of interests of the Polish-Lithuanian business and subsequently comes to Ukrainian market”, Olena Chepizhko comments.

Car accidents and other adventures

Olena Drozdova is convinced that at present there is a big problem with the import procedure of the foreign cars into Ukraine, and taking into account the fact, that the driver of the car with European license plate can easily get away from responsibility, we receive a huge problem, which concerns not only road accidents.

“In 2017, on the territory of Ukraine, more than 10 thousand road accidents were due to the fault of the cars with European license plate, that is 6% of their total, according to the head of the Department of Administrative Police Oleksiy Biloshitskiy. Over the past few months in 2018, the percentage of such accidents has risen to 8.5. The most common articles in the cases of traffic infraction are Art. 121-121-4 of Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses and Art. 286 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, establish responsibility for the driver. The main problem with the cars with European license plate is that it is impossible to find this driver – there are no official records or registration data about him. It is possible, of course, to find the owner who will be a Denmark citizen, for example,  who has never been to Ukraine and who under no circumstances will be squealed by his state. Or it may happen that the owner is already dead or a fictional legal body, and then the victim in generally loses all the chances for at least some kind of compensation.

Or, for instance, let’s consider a parking fine. A policeman, having fined a vehicle while a driver’s absent presence, obliges his legal owner, who does not even know about this, to pay for it.

One more crucial question is the compensation for losses caused by the driver of the car with a foreign registration. The drivers of the cars with European license plates usually cannot confirm the validness of their ownership and are not interested in this, and the car is, at best, insured in a foreign company. The second stage of obtaining amends is to file a report with the real owner and his insurer, which will, obviously, refuse due to the absence of client’s fault, if this statement will reach them at least”, comments Olena Drozdova.

 

A considerable number of traffic accidents involving European cars with European license plates was also noted by the political consultant Dmitro Franchuk. Considering the constant need for traveling throughout the country, he has the opportunity to observe quite a lot of such cases.

“From my personal experience, I want to say that since I am constantly traveling on business around the country, sometimes I turn my attention to traffic accidents in which cars with European license plates are involved. And the percentage of such situations is quite big today”, said Dmytro Franchuk.

On the contrary, the driver of the car with European license plate Mykhailo Levak in a conversation with Opinion noted that the thesis of increasing traffic accidents because of European transport is fabricated since the problem of most traffic accidents is not in the car but in the driver himself.

“You see, those who oppose our position and our cars, are ready for anything to somehow lower the level of trust in us, for us to become enemies and threat. I do not deny that there is a lot of traffic accidents involving our European cars. But if those drivers had the opportunity to buy a car in Ukraine, the same could have happened while driving a car with Ukrainian registration. If there is everything fine with the car in a technical aspect, then everything else depends on the driver. Where did they get the driver’s license, it also came from Europe? No. This is a human factor. And now add the aggression toward cars with a foreign registration and get an answer. None of us goes to bed with a dream to hit someone. There are fools on the road everywhere”, the driver is convinced.

Whether deputies’ bills will be effective?

The Verkhovna Rada has registered bills that in the near future, according to Nina Yuzhanina, can solve the problem of the enormous number of cars with European registration in Ukraine. The documents provide for the reducing of the excise car tax, the abolishing of the ban on the customs car registration that does not comply with the Euro 5 standard, and the strengthening of control over the cars with European license plates.

“We were in many working groups and faced the attacks and dislikes of various parties. On the one hand, they demanded simplification of all customs taxes, on the other – they said we should bear in mind that in case of cancellation there will be huge shortfalls in the budget”, the chairwoman of the Taxation and Customs Policy Committee said.

Olena Chepizhko, in return, is convinced that the bills, that Yuzhanin tells about, may have negative consequences for the environment. However, the expert agrees that today this is the only way to resolve the problems with the cars with European license plates.

“The abandonment of the Euro-5 environmental standard in the drafts No. 8487 and No. 8488 is in contradiction with the European tendencies of increasing environmental norms regarding vehicles’ obnoxious emissions into the air. Compliance with the Euro-5 standards is a matter of ecology of our country, and it should not be solved in the economic plane through the prism of the liberalization of the import of pre-owned cars from other countries.

However, the legislative proposals are at present the only constructive attempt to resolve the problem of the uncontrolled import of such cars. They do not provide a one-time problem solution, but they change the system that arose as a result of the law abuse by thousands of citizens”, Chepizhko summed up.

At the same time, Olena Drozdova explained, that it is not even worth thinking about completely free import of the cars with European license plates into Ukraine, as it will put an end to the work of official dealers of foreign cars in Ukraine.

“It is also impossible to introduce free legalization for the cars with European license plates. It will be the biggest mistake of the authorities. Legalizing these cars for free we stop the sails of official dealers of foreign cars in Ukraine, which will lose the demand due to the free import of much cheaper European cars and simply “drop out” from Ukraine. The same negative effect will be felt by the market of domestic car production, which already decays due to unjustified high-cost and doubtful quality of the product”, mentioned in the comments.

Text: Dmytro Zhuravel

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