A French measure, Decree No 95-937 of 24 August 1995, with a protectionist effect is currently under scrutiny. It prohibits the sale in France of bicycles that are not fully assembled when shipped whereas there is no such prohibition in other EU Member States. The consequence of the measure – which fortunately is now being called into question – is to restrict online sales of bicycles which have been partially disassembled. The measure is harmful for online sales of bicycles as their partial disassembly is necessary to avoid shipping packages that are too large and to ensure secure packing of the goods during transport (fully assembled bicycles can move around inside large packages during transport and risk being damaged).
The issue, already subject to debate, was revived this summer by MEP Franziska Brantner, a Green Party member who alerted the Commission to the controversial national rules and asked for a review of the compatibility of the restriction with EU law.
On 17 September 2013 the Commission, represented by Commissioner Tajani, answered the parliamentary question posed:
“The Commission received a complaint against France and is thus aware of the obstacles to the free movement of goods resulting from the national rules quoted by the Honourable Member and which particularly affect retailers in other Member States.
- The Commission believes that modifications should be introduced to Decree No 95-937 in order to remove the current obstacles to trade falling within the scope of Art. 34 TFEU.
- The Commission has contacted the French authorities on this issue and is awaiting their reply.”
The Commission’s answer is encouraging and constitutes a first step towards restoring the freedom of movement guaranteed by the Treaty in the bicycle sector.