UK number plates could be scrapped under EU law

Number plates
11 Apr, 2014 12:51pm Joe Finnerty

MEPs will vote on proposals to introduce a single-coloured plate across the EU

A plan to introduce a single-coloured number plate across the EU and replace the UK's 110-year-old design will be voted on by MEPs next week.

The European Parliament is considering standardising number plates across the continent as part of a wider policy to make it easier to re-register cars abroad.

The proposals could see Britain’s 110-year-old number plate switched to fall in line with European neighbours. The latest plans are actually a watered-down version of the initial policy, which called for a single number plate to be introduced across the EU. It’s all part of a wider policy to make it easier to travel around the continent being discussed by the European Parliament.

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Brussels could also ask for vehicles to be fitted with ID tags to cut down on fraud and the cloning of number plates. This would make the trading of cars across the EU easier, as well as tracking cars using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software. Auto Express has previously reported how the UK Government currently has no ability to record the number of foreign vehicles in the country.

The single-colour proposals will be voted on next week and Conservative MEPs are set to oppose the move. However, other European countries are believed to support the plans.

A spokesman for the Conservative MEPs told Auto Express they would fight it at the vote and even if others supported it, David Cameron and the British Government would be able to stop it going through in the EU.

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Simon Williams, a RAC spokesman, added: “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.”

Questions remarks remain over the impact any changes would have on personalised plates. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) makes millions of pounds each year when new plates are released in March and September and would not want to lose this revenue stream under any EU imposed changes.

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Good old EU at its best. It's nice to think we're paying them bilions of pounds every year to tackle important issues like the colour of our numberplates.

The issue was clarified in the article as being related to the tracking of foreign cars and easing European travel and trade. Not the colour.
The colour of our number plates last changed in 1973. The system generally has changed 5 times during the 110 years. Changing it again will do no harm to the good old traditional Great British cultural heritage.

I don't understand what is 110 years old? The current yellow back / white front arrangement appeared in the 1970s. Before that they were black with light reflective letters.

Good. It is an immense ball ache re-registering UK cars in France, and it will stop people in the UK driving and parking with inpunity if they are on foreign plates.

'Brussels could also ask for vehicles to be fitted with ID tags to cut down on fraud and the cloning of number plates' - perhaps cars could be assigned some sort of unique 'vehicle identification number' which would have to be clearly visible, and etched onto the chassis as well...

This piece has all the anti-EU froth and misinformation of something written for the Daily Mail. Interesting then, that the 110-year-old design nonsense was in that same disreputable rag too.

Maybe im being stupid and not understand some the story here, 'make it easier to re-register cars abroad' from single colour number plate ?? How would single colour make it easier ?? Also UK is RHD, most of EU is LHD some countries in EU don't allow RHD cars ! so is the next step to make the UK right hand traffic and LHD cars banning all RHD cars, & insurance, tax, new car prices go right up in price & we have to foot the bill, I hope not, Brussels bunch of clowns !

Thats what I thought. It falls into the same category as the straight banana EU 'story' many years ago.

Do you believe in the jabberwocky? I ask because you started with a dubious 'fact' and construct an entire universe of sickening woe from it. Still, it allows you to finish with your piece de resistance, so it was worth it, I suppose.
I'm not supporting the EU, just pointing out that some anti-EU protests are at best, slightly odd. It seems that we now find the yellow number plate is welcomed to our bosom like a returning prodigal son and must be defended to the last drop of our indignant blood when previously, we never gave thought to them, except to alter the spacing to create rude words.

Which EU nations don't allow you to drive a RHD vehicle?

If you like the EU that much go and bugger off and live over there. Vote UKIP

About time we had plates that stopped that stupid personal numbers game that leads to a big fat profit for DVLA that the motorist sees nothing of. Vanity behind the wheel leeds to disregard of the laws of driving, give some people a mm and they'll take metre.

"Vanity behind the wheel leeds to disregard of the laws of driving"

Random made up fact of the day.

And why bring that particular part of West Yorkshire into it?

The Dutch have yellow plates front and back. The French very very reluctantly gave up on selective yellow headlights only after years of trying to impose it on the rest of Europe. Looks like the rest of Europe will have to swallow always-on dipped beam from Scandinavia. Even in brightly sunny midday in the Spanish summer.

Great Snoring. Ah, no, that's in Norfolk.

"Over there" in case you haven't noticed is "over here"/

And for that matter the current letter/number arrangement is even younger - the current XX YY ZZZ scheme was introduced in 2001.

And you win the prize for the most idiotic post of the internet. Well done.

Hopefully white plates on front and white plates on the back is the standard....yellow rare plates look ugly!

So they will be Paying me to scrap my personal plate then>

1. "I'm not supporting the EU". Learn to read, Dave.

2. I live in the EU already; even moving to the UK didn't change that.

But thanks for ably demonstrating my point about being slightly odd.

poxy bloody EU turdburgers, should go away and worry about fiddling their expenses and leave our number plates alone.

Well stop THERE then.

Thanks buddy. Make sure you vote UKIP

Well hopefully it will stop all you pretentious plonkers with personalised plates (or "private" plates as you lot like to call them! What's private about them? They are on display for all to see!) The worst ones are where they are supposedly spelling someone's name but are so unrfecognisable that they have to add it in small print underneath so you can guess what it is supposed to say! Get a grip! Why pay stupid money to have what you have to have by law? What does it matter what number is screwed on your car? Just a bunch of people living above their station if you ask me.!!!

......and another dont own the number that you have paid for, only the right to display it on the vehicle! It is owned by the DVLA !!!

Did they forget the other two major problems with UK cars and foreign roads...

last time I checked we drive on the left here, and our speed-o-meters are in mph (ok they do also have km in small print around the inside - but it's barely visible!).

So to make cars that you could easily sell across the whole EU isn't as simple as just making the reg plate the same colour (doh!) - there are other implications such as the fact that UK vehicles are RHD and we drive to mph not kph!

I suppose next idea is to force us to drive on the wrong side of the road and change our speed limits to kph then we'll fit right in.

Also if the reg plates do change it'll be interesting to see what happens to the Guernsey and Jersey reg plates as they're not part of the EU, and some of their vehicles still have the old black and silver reg plates!

Black with light reflective letters can still be seen in Guernsey. I went Guernsey last year and was surprised by all the modern cars with the old reg plates on - then someone pointed out to me that if you have a car in Guernsey you can either have the British yellow and white, or you can have the black and silver plates. Jersey are a bit different too as they have J at the beginning of all their plates, and IoM plates have the 3 legged Manx symbol on the plate.

Maybe it's time to change those oddities too. I mean sure, imperial units are cool, they remind you of your great past but if you check out the reality, the world has moved on.

What a wag you are!

...and before that they were just silver on black pressed metal.

Bit of a non-post that. Rather more folks in the UK than in France. Also, ANYONE who relies on the protection of a foreign plate for their mis-observation of local rules and regs must be pretty stupid.

Ooh! Just a bit over-sensitive there. People are dying around the world, so stop worrying about other peoples trivial preferences and apply your angst to something really important.

As above ... Ooh! Just a bit over-sensitive there. People are dying around the world, so stop worrying about other peoples trivial preferences and apply your angst to something really important.

Except the USA, of course!

And how many years have they been selling milk in 500ml bottles and yet people STILL refer to it as a pint of milk (even though it's 65ml short of a pint!). It would take people a long time to change - and for what purpose - pint vs ml, lb vs kg, or miles vs km it's all the same just a man-made way of measuring things. Some of it goes right back to our Roman heritage - lb comes from libre which is the latin word for pound.

Also it just wouldn't sound right - going to the pub and ordering 565ml instead of a pint would it ;)

Jealousy will get you no where Robbo. I see number plates (as do a lot of other people) as investment opportunities. In fact I have many on certificate i.e. they don't sit on any car. However, these are going up in value and when I'm ready will sell and hopefully make a large profit. People like you basically haven't a clue how on how to make money - unless its off the state of course.

Not all isle of man plates have the Manx flag. They have now reverted to the UK style plates with no symbol. The 3 letter part of the plate will always contain the letters MN with another random letter or MAN. The single letter part doesn't denote the age of the car. Previous to that they had black plates which be fitted on cars up to 2000. The plates you refer to with the Manx flag were in a different font to the UK ones and each group of digits were separated by a hyphen like the Dutch plates

GB losing its more of its identity yet again. Tell the EU to back off and let us run our own show. Anyone remember Great Britain?

So, they want standardisation. What I am missing is what the new uniform standard will be? Will it just cover the colour or will there be a new alphanumeric coding system as well? Will it be based on an existing layout (if so, which lucky country will not need to do anything) or something completely new? Will it be progressively introduced or applied only to new vehicles? Surely, all that is needed is general guidance to ensure that, like the UK plates, they are easily read with fonts being standardised for readability and size. Our use of a different colour for front and back seems to be a good idea to me. The Dutch idea of giving different colours for various classes of vehicles (eg taxi's) also has merit. If there is a rare moment of common sense in Brussels, we might not have much to fear. Am I an optimist?

Is milk still available in bottles?

Supermarkets sell it in little plastic containers and they are all 1 pint / 568 ml. It is still a pint. Same as our road signs are still in miles.

The Manx plates always reminded me of Irish plates in terms of font, hyphens and the celtic island name script.

Still available in plastic bottles.

Strange how, everyone I know anyway, would refer to a 568ml bottle of milk as a pint, but the bigger bottles happily get referred to as litre bottles or two litre bottles.

True, but laziness is not an excuse. There are many countries that went through this process successfully. In fact, the metrication process is currently in progress in the UK, only that is very slow compared to others because people here are more conservatives (in terms of traditions). However, the simplicity of the metric system and the advantages of having a single units system throughout the world more than balances the efforts. I work in developing engineering software and I can tell you it is a nightmare to cope with all different unit systems, not to mention the amount of money companies have to spend just to make their systems working with different units.

Coming back to the registration plates - I believe the fact that the automatic number plates recognition systems will be able to identify any car regardless of the country where it is registered (as long as it is in the EU) is enough for the change to be worthwhile. There are many thousands of vehicles crossing borders within the EU every day - a unified registration system means a unified way to deal with this, to track them, tax them, fine them, etc. Then think about the people who move around the Europe for work. Do you know how complicated it is to register your UK car in, say, Germany? And no, that is not because it is a RHD car but because it needs new plates and most of the time, new speedometers. And after a while, you may decide to come back to the UK...

I had to laugh at the head line "single coloured plates". Does that mean yellow plates with yellow writing or white plates with white writing ! Great for the speed cameras.

Not to mention new headlights, and here in Spain it costs about euro 1000 to register a foreign vehicle to Spanish.

Reading all the rubbish you put on this site I think it's you that has the angst.
People have been dying around the world forever and will continue to do so, it's called life funnily enough.

Yes, everyone still uses mpg as the unit for fuel economy even though it must be well over 30 years since fuel was sold in gallons. How many of today's young motorists even know what a gallon is and thus what mpg means in practice? We should use a unit of fuel consumption such as the continental l/100 km. After all, this is the primary unit produced, both by the EU consumption tests and the trip computers on most modern cars. They display mpg as a derived value.

I prefer the original idea of a single number plate for the whole of the EU. That would fix the old speed camera problem!

110 years old? Are they sure? I have seen the design change over the last 30 years. In any case it´s only a Nº plate so no need to get knickers in a twist. First Britain needs to update its traffic speeds and distances to harmonise with the rest of the world. Ireland did it some time ago.

It would not be to force you but simply bring you into line with the rest of the world. Iceland and Sweden did it in the 60s. Spain, Portugal, Hungaria, Austria and some others did it in the 30s.

The "pint" was adopted from France, "la pinte" anyway so not historically British at all.

At least the Government has now installed height signs in metres & km signs on dual-carriageways and motorways. They are at intervals of 500 m and indicate the motorway nº and the distance travelled from the beginning.Also all those signs indicating 1/3, 1/2 & 2/3 mile are simply 500 m, 800 m and 1 km ready for instant conversion in the future.

l/100 km is not a Continental system but a world-wide system, to which English people refer.