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Joint letter on COVID-19 to the European Commission

Monday, 27 April 2020

European automotive servicing market operators request concrete measures to fight COVID-19 economic implications and preparation for post-COVID period

A large coalition gathering European automotive servicing market operators such as authorised and independent repairers, body repairers, independent data publishers, manufacturers of garage and test equipment, manufacturers of lubricants, independent distributors of automotive parts and components, as well as the European umbrella organisation for SMEs, contacted Commissioner Thierry Breton, who is in charge of the Internal Marker, with a view to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and preparation for the-post COVID period. Concrete measures should be taken to effectively support SMEs forming Europe’s automotive mobility value chain accounting for over 4,5 million people employed in over 500.000 enterprises.
This sector plays a vital role in enabling personal mobility, distribution of goods, servicing public transport operators as well as ensuring essential services such as medical services and law enforcement can continue to operate. It contributes, thanks to its multi-brand solutions and its wide geographical coverage, to safer, cleaner and more affordable mobility for the private, corporate or public users of the more than 308 million vehicles on EU roads. It is instrumental in this crisis, and should truly remain considered as a strategic asset, particularly due to its contribution to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
A first enquiry among several companies of the value chain revealed the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis with often dramatic reduction of demand/orders. Many SMEs reported in particular the imminent threat of liquidity problems, trying to keep the family business alive and to retain by all means possible the established staff. There is a major risk that the current health crisis and its dramatic impact on the short term will be followed by another serious crisis on the economic and social level.
In order to support the strategic automotive mobility value chain, the coalition would like therefore to discuss with the European Commission, some proposals, such as:

Economically: Supporting businesses in the short, mid and long-term

Lack of liquidity, especially for SMEs, at short- and mid-term, undermines the possibility to recover on the mid- and long-term.
• Mutual information regarding actions taken in Member States is necessary, as well as avoiding multiplication of different measures and the administrative hurdles.
• A strong European coordination to re-establish the Single Market of workers and goods is crucial. This includes also avoiding Single Market distortions, including bans and export restrictions, and stopping closing borders for goods; safeguarding all freight transport modes is a priority within the EU.

Politically: Organising a European Automobile Value Chain summit

• Discussing with institutions and stakeholders in a holistic manner what could be done to ensure a sustainable relaunch of economic activity should be accompanied by measures for the competitiveness of the entire industry sector.
• Urgent measures have to be taken, but such measures must be carefully discussed with all the stakeholders collectively so that none of the players can be undermined

Strategically: Preparing for the future

• The current crisis should not narrow down the different ambitions set by the European Commission, be it in the area of digitalisation, future mobility or environmental protection.
• The European Commission and the other EU institutions must commit human, technical and financial resources to create a strong automotive ecosystem.