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End of the road for British number plates?

EU proposal could see British number plates banned, a newspaper report has claimed.

The British number plate is allegedly under threat. A report in the Daily Express newspaper said a plan to force British drivers to display the blue and gold EU symbol will be voted on by Members of European Parliament next week.

British plates to be or not to be...
British plates to be or not to be…

The proposal is part of a plan to standardise number plates across Europe so that it is easier to register a vehicle abroad. It would see the yellow number plate at the back and the white number plate at the front of a car resided to the scrap heap. Personalised plates, also known as private plates, could also be banned.

Number plates with ID tags are also being considered as part of the legislation. This, according to reports, would help tackle fraud and number plate cloning as well as make it easier for Automatic Number Plate Recognition (APNR) software to do its job.

“The aim of the commission’s plans is to reduce red tape by making it easier, quicker and cheaper for people and companies to re-register their vehicles when moving them across EU borders,” an EU Commission spokeswoman said.

Daily Express sources say the proposal is ‘likely’ to be passed into EU law. EU officials argue, however, the article is misleading and that there is no plan to scrap British plates. An amendment in the legislation merely says the European Commission “should consider” ID tags and that it “could” consider a standardised colour scheme.

A UK official went as far as saying there is no chance British plates will be outlawed next week, explaining that the idea is very early in the legislative process: “Even if other EU countries pursued this, which we don’t think they are, the UK wouldn’t support it. We don’t think the idea is heading anywhere,” an official told the BBC.

The Daily Express report mentions the British number plate is 110 years old, which is true, as the registration system was introduced in 1904. It does, however, ignore the fact the style of the plate has changed a number of times over that period, including as recently as 2001.

Only in 2008 was it made legal to display something other than the 12-star European Logo on a number plate. Prior to that, displaying the Union Flag, Welsh Dragon, Scottish Saltire and Cross of St George could have landed you a fine of up to £1,000.

Clever electronic ‘e-tag’ number plates, which can publically display a driver’s status such as the vehicle being stolen or uninsured, are being considered in the US state of Southern Carolina.

Would a standard number plate throughout Europe make sense, or are there more important issues to tackle? Let us know.

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