European automotive supplier body, CLEPA, says its membership has now soared to 110 as organisations look to secure effective representation at the heart of the European Commission (EC).

"I am very happy with the development [of] CLEPA, which is [now] 110 members," CLEPA CEO, Jean-Marc Gales, told just-auto at this week's SMMT Open Forum in the UK city of Worcester.

"Suppliers want professional representation in Brussels - a body that fights for their interests and a body that is supranational.

"When politics and automotive get mixed, you never get the best solution. That is why a lot of suppliers come to us."

Gales declined to be drawn on the ongoing dispute between Mercedes-Benz and an alliance of the French Environment Ministry and the EC concerning the German automaker's use of the r134a refrigerant as opposed to the r1234yf alternative.

France's Council of State recently lifted the ban on Mercedes A, B, CLA and SL models using r134a, as opposed to the lower-polluting r1234yf variant, but CLEPA is preferring to maintain its distance in the dispute.

"There is no common opinion right now," said Gales. "We decided not to get involved at all."

The CLEPA chief revealed he would be delivering a keynote speech at OESA's (Original Equipment Suppliers Association) Outlook Conference in November and took time to praise current president and CEO, Neil De Koker, who will become president emeritus from 1 October following the appointment of Julie Fream at the helm from the same date.

"Neil has done a great job," said Gales, "and we are sure Julie will do a great job."

The pan-European supplier body CEO also highlighted its CLEPA Global Management Programme (GMP) - a six-day London-based executive development course in two modules in November this year and April 2014 - with the option of an additional event based in Shanghai for China and its emerging markets.

The GMP is jointly designed and offered by CLEPA and Imperial College in London for senior managers and management teams in the automotive supply industry.