The insurance industry is rejoicing after the European Commission revealed yesterday (30 June 2021) that it was scrapping the obligation for UK drivers to show a Green Card when entering the European Union (EU).
A Green Card is an international certificate of insurance that proves individuals are insured to drive in the EU. They are issued and signed by the vehicle insurer and include vehicle and registration details.
The requirement to present a Green Card has been in place for all motorists since 1 January 2021 following the UK’s departure from the EU – as part of the EU, the UK was previously part of the Green Card free circulation area, which meant that motorists did not have to carry Green Cards when visiting other countries within the European Economic Area (EEA).
The Commission has also put forward a series of measures to address some of the most pressing issues related to the implementation of the Green Card protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
This will be particularly helpful for Northern Irish motorists crossing the border to Ireland.
Vice-president of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič, who is also the EU’s co-chair of the joint committee, said: “Our work is about ensuring that the hard-earned gains of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement – peace and stability in Northern Ireland – are protected, while avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and maintaining the integrity of the EU single market.
“Therefore, we have spared no effort in trying to mitigate some of the challenges that have arisen in the implementation of the protocol.
“[The] package of practical solutions clearly demonstrates that we are firm on implementation, but continue to work hard for the benefit of the people in Northern Ireland.”
Very welcome news
Biba’s executive director Graeme Trudgill announced on LinkedIn that the announcement was “good news”, particularly as the trade body has been lobbying for this action for several years alongside the ABI, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) and the UK government.
Speaking about the waiving of Green Cards, Trudgill said that “both commercial and personal vehicle users will benefit from this change”.
Huw Evans, outgoing director general at the ABI, agreed it was “excellent news”.
Evans said: “We have long campaigned for the UK to be part of the Green Card free circulation zone, so we warmly welcome the decision by the European Commission. The Commission has taken a pragmatic approach on the matter.
“UK drivers will no longer need to apply for a Green Card through their insurer, which will help reduce bureaucracy for drivers and road hauliers travelling between the UK and EU. It will be especially welcomed by motorists in Northern Ireland driving across the border to the Republic of Ireland.”
A spokesperson for the MIB told Insurance Times: ”We are delighted that the European Commission has agreed that the UK should be part of the Green Card Free Circulation Area. We have worked with key partners to help achieve this outcome, which will make it much easier for British motorists to drive insured in EU and EEA states and vice versa. This is especially good news for motorists in Northern Ireland who frequently travel to the Republic of Ireland.
“The EU Commission’s announcement that UK drivers will no longer require a Green Card as proof of valid motor insurance will be sent for publication in the Official Journal of the EU, and 20 days after this the law will come into effect. In the meantime, British motorists must continue to approach their insurer for a Green Card before driving in Europe.”
Meanwhile, Trudgill pointed out that prior to the coronavirus pandemic, UK motorists made 2.6 million trips to the EU every year – he reiterated that the EC’s decision is therefore “very welcome news”.
He continued: “The decision does not take effect immediately, however. The EU process to implement the decision requires publication in the official journal of the EU and then a waiting period of 20 days. So, drivers entering the EU must continue to obtain a Green Card from their insurer in the meantime. We will confirm to members as soon as the change is finalised.
“The EU’s statement was issued in the context of finding solutions to implement the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and, of course, is of particular benefit to Northern Ireland motorists who travel frequently across the border. However, the decision applies to all UK motorists travelling to the EU.”
Gerry Ross, head of commercial motor at Allianz Insurance said: “We’ve been providing Green Cards through our specially designed portal for some time but welcome this news which is positive for motorists, brokers and insurers. It will save time, administration and hassle for those driving in Europe, making cross border journeys much easier.”
Previously, the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland formed part of the Withdrawal Agreement – it was agreed jointly and ratified by both the EU and the UK.
It has been in force in this territory since 1 February 2020 and has legal effects under international law.