“We have never been so busy”
What work is the Commission for Public Affairs doing during the Coronavirus disease pandemic? – We ask Director Jesper Christensen.
Have you had to stop working? How are things in your area of FIM work?
“To be honest, we have never been so busy. The political world has not stopped; I think it got even more active now with internet meetings! “
Do you have one issue that is more important than the others right now?
“ Yes. The defence of the sport of motorcycling. We still face a challenge with the revision of the European Union Motor Insurance Directive. “
Dita Charanzová is a Czech politician, and former diplomat, who has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2014. She leads for the European Parliament in the discussions on the Motor Insurance Directive.
Do you have any allies?
“Yes, Madame Dita Charanzová MEP has been helpful. She is the rapporteur from the Parliament’s IMCO Committee, which is in charge of this law. She and her colleagues in the European Parliament have listened to the FIM (and the FIA – with whom we co-ordinate). They have proposed an exemption from this law for all racing, testing, and demonstrating on closed racing circuits.”
Where is this dossier now? When will there be a final decision by the European institutions?
“We are now in the final stages. These are three-way discussions between the European Parliament, the European Commission, and most important of all the European Council of Ministers. The German government took over chairing these talks on 30th June and will continue to 31st December.
How are these talks going?
“We see some movement from the European Council. In December last year they offered to move a bit our way. – But only by national government exemptions. We could live with that, but it would be very difficult and expensive for FIM and FIM Europe.”
“We would have to prepare (in partnership with our FMNs) an application to each government for exemption of motorcycle racing from what is road insurance.
But why would that be so difficult, it is only affecting the 27 FMNs in the European Union?
“It is more complex. Owing to international agreements this Motor Insurance Directive affects many more countries. For example, Norway and Switzerland. It will also continue to affect motorcycle racing in the UK.”
If the problems for racing were not bad enough, does it also have wider effects?
“Yes, it does. It also affects people who have collections of motorcycles, private collectors and museums who do not want to have the whole collection constantly insured for road use.”
Do you think you will resolve all these issues?
“ Yes, I am confident that the years of work we have put into this will result in an eventual solution. Our activities in racing are covered by public liability insurance. There is no risk to spectators, contractors, the media and anyone else present at a racing event. We insure before, during, and after an event – to allow the contractors to be present dismantling facilities. “
“FIM Europe wrote a paper explaining all this to Brussels; and this was sent to the authorities with a joint letter signed by FIM President Jorge Viegas, and FIM Europe President Martin De Graaff.”
Do you plan more high-level interventions?
“Yes, we are seeking to set up some more meetings at high level for President Jorge Viegas to continue to advocate for the FIM.”
Is this just about Circuit Racing?
“No. It is about all our activities in racing on closed tracks. So of course, motocross and all the other disciplines are affected.”
“We have a large number of dossiers that affect road riders, both commuters and those riding motorcycles for leisure and touring. Some of these are legal issues, others are political.
Can you give an example?
“Yes. We see more and more authorities looking to restrict leisure motorcycling on certain roads, (especially at weekends) owing to complaints by citizens about noise pollution.”
Is this a new issue?
“No it has been going on for years now. The Dutch Motorcycling Federation (KNMV) have done a lot of work to sensitise riders to be more considerate, especially on Sunday mornings, in rural parts of their country. – Especially when riding on the famous dyke roads.”
Do you have a strategy?
“We are working on this and currently have intense discussions with our friends in FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Association). The only way forward is for all sectors in motorcycling to recognise that we must work together.”
What about next year?
“I cannot wait to get back to normal!”
Any particular reasons?
“Yes. Our work is very dependent on personal relationships. Authorities do not spend all their time thinking about motorcycling. Occasionally they do and at these times they can do us a lot of harm -Usually in an unintentional way.”
“Our task is to spend much time becoming interested in other issues (usually nothing to do with motorcycling) which interest officials and politicians. That way when we seek their help, they regard us as, “constructive partners” and they will listen to us.”
“We cannot do this in Zoom meetings. We have to get back into the room and the coffee breaks! - or as they always write on United Nations meeting agendas, the tea break!”
“John Chatterton-Ross will retire from the FIM staff at the end of August. - After thirteen years of service, preceded by seventeen as a FIM volunteer. He started as an FIM volunteer back in 1990.
As already reported here in the FIM Family website he will be succeeded by Chris Hodder.
A smooth transition is in progress as Chris and John have known each other for many years and are good friends.”