BRUSSELS, Belgium (Sept. 17) — The European Commission, reacting to input from the public and affected industries, has proposed amending a European Union regulation to permit the continued use of Imperial measurements, including inches, throughout Europe.
The decision, issued Sept. 13, is a relief to the tire industry, which feared the implementation of 80/181/EEC would force the industry to change tire-sizing nomenclature to express rim diameters in millimeters instead of inches.
"We welcome the commission's proposal. It will stabilize the application of the 80/181, which has worked efficiently over the past 27 years," according to the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers' Association.
The EC's proposal is based on the results of a public consultation in early 2007 and follows the unanimous recommendation of industry to lift the sundown clause for the United Kingdom and Ireland on the use of metric measurements.
The EC disclosed in November 2006 the intent of EU Directive 80/181/EEC, which as formulated would require all goods sold in the EU to be measured only in metric dimensions.
The directive is supposed to come into force at year-end 2009. The ruling, assuming it goes through, will remove the metric-only risk indefinitely.
Other consequences of the ruling include the U.K. and Ireland being allowed to keep units like the pint of beer and milk, and miles, yards, feet and inches on roads. The proposal also is important for the current trade relations with the U.S. as the European Commission has proposed to indefinitely extend the use of supplementary indications next to metric units.
"Our proposal will stabilize the current application of EU law, which has worked well over 27 years," said EC Vice President GÃ¼nter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy. "Extending supplementary indications indefinitely is supported by EU industry and sends a clear signal to our U.S. counterparts that the EU favors a trading environment free of barriers."