The European Commission has threatened Italy with legal action at the European Court of Justice over obstacles that Italian law creates for the parallel imports of cars from other European Union (EU) Member States, writes Keith Nuthall.

The Commission claims that Italy is breaking EU fair trading laws that stop national governments from unfairly protecting their own local companies against foreign EU businesses. In particular, Brussels is opposed to a rule saying that parallel imported vehicles cannot be registered under a simplified administrative procedure; instead a complicated traditional procedure has to be used.

Secondly, cars imported through parallel means can never be assigned an “antifraud” code developed under Italian law to combat trafficking in stolen cars. These are assigned solely to vehicles intended from the beginning for the Italian market.

Said a Commission statement: “This reinforces the belief of potential buyers that only the official importing networks can guarantee that the cars being sold are of lawful origin.”