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Transport ministry rolls out new changes for bikers
THE ROAD transport department has started rolling out a number of changes on driving licences, but yesterday claimed ignorance over possible EU sanctions for being two years late in implementing the relevant EU directive.
The legislation should have been implemented by January 19, 2011 to ensure that driving licences within the EU are mutually recognised, as well as to maintain safety standards across the bloc.
But asked how Cyprus stood in relation to the ongoing legal proceedings against it, the head of road transport department Soteris Kolettas said he was not aware of any action taken against Cyprus.
“We are fully harmonised with the EU directive,” he said. Kolettas said he had “no clue” about any action against Cyprus in relation to this matter even though Parliament had expressed concerns over sanctions.
On June 21 last year the European Commission referred Cyprus to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to transpose the directive on driving licences. “Cyprus has still not fully transposed this directive into national law, although it was required to do so by 19 January 2011,” a Commission news release said.
On November 21, the Commission reduced the proposed penalty to almost €6,505 per day, after Cyprus notified the commission of a “measure that partially transposes (the) directive,” another news release said.
When driving licences were discussed in parliament last May, the head of the communications committee, DIKO’s Antonis Antoniou warned that Cyprus could be sanctioned by the EU for failing to harmonise the law in time.
But Kolettas insisted yesterday he was not aware of any problems with the EU, or of any possible fines.
On June 22 – a day after the Commission referred Cyprus to the ECJ – amended legislation was published in the government’s official gazette but according to an announcement by the road transport department, the law became effective on January 19, 2013, two years after the deadline.
The changes – most already implemented – involve new plastic cards, maximum validity for a driving licence of 15 years for cars and motorbikes and three-year renewals for those over the age of 70, and new tests and age limits for motorbike licences.
Motorcyclists will now need to be pass a driving test at the age of 18 before being able to use motorbikes up to 125cc, and will not be allowed to drive on the motorway. Motorcyclists will need to reach the age of seventeen and a half to get a learner’s licence for motorbikes up to 125cc, again without being allowed to take them on the motorway. But people will have to wait to drive bigger bikes with a power output of up to 35kW; minimum age is 20 for those with two years of motorbike experience. The age limit for small motorbikes such as mopeds and scooters remains at 17, but would-be drivers need to pass a driving test and are not allowed to drive on the motorway.
Plastic cards are still not available although an official with the road transport department said they would ask for tenders’ proposals next month.