The move had also raised fears that Europe could have forced all licence plates to display the EU flag. Tory MEPs rounded on the move, branding it ‘idiotic’. There was also opposition from motoring groups and fears about the cost of replacing existing plates with a new design. ‘Most British motorists want British number plates – not European ones.’
It’s said these plans were supposed to make it easier for people to register vehicles in a different EU country, to improve trade in cars and free movement around the continent.
The documents state: ‘The Commission should consider whether the cross-border trade in and free movement of vehicles could be further increased by introducing safeguards against fraudulent use of number plates and by equipping vehicles and their number plates with identification tags.’
‘The Commission could also consider whether the obstacles faced by citizens and businesses when transferring their vehicles from one Member State to another could be further offset if there were a possibility of equipping their vehicles with number plates in common colours.’
The plans were thought to have the support of large numbers of MEPs – making it more likely they could have become law.
The suggestion of identity tags – supposedly intended to protect against fraud – raised fears it could lead to an EU-wide database of vehicles.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “The British number plate is simple, highly effective and, while it has changed several times over the years, has been part of our driving heritage for 110 years. While there are clearly benefits to be had from having the same style of number plate throughout Europe with identification tags to stop fraud, it would be a real shame to lose ours. It ought to be possible to come up with a set of common guidelines that allow countries to adapt their number plates slightly without going for full standardisation. If that really has to be the way, perhaps the UK’s number plates should form the basis of a new harmonised standard, especially as several other countries already use a very clear format closely resembling ours.”
After the recent referendum, obviously our UK number plate system is here to stay. Historically, number plates have been perfect gifts and in many cases sound long term investments requiring no maintenance.