The European Commission said today it will extend the current rules which govern how cars are sold in Europe until 2013 but warned that it plans to tighten the regulations after that.

The current measures, aimed at creating more competition in the car market and loosening carmakers’ control over dealers, were introduced in 2002 and were due to expire in May 2010.

“It is important to give the automotive sector, one of the most important sectors in the EU, legal certainty and predictability as to the future competition law regime,” EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

New rules “will make it easier for market players to respond to rapidly changing market circumstances while better safeguarding consumer interests.”

The Brussels-based commission introduced the block exemption regulation in July 2002 to boost competition in the EU car market; the regulations allow dealers to offer more than one brand of car and state that manufacturers must give dealers two years notice of termination. Dealers are also able to sell their contracts to other dealers in the same sales network without asking a carmaker’s permission.