At present vehicles sold in a country have to meet the Regulations and standards of that country. This requires approvals or approval of a vehicle and / or its components according to the procedure of the Government of that country. With surge in globalisation of automobile industry, these days, the vehicle and vehicle parts are being internationally traded. The existence of separate regulations and approvals procedures in different countries requires design modifications, added tests and repetitive approvals
To address this situation and to assist the global trade of automobiles and their components, efforts are being made to have harmonised vehicle regulations worldwide. The major role in this direction is being played by WP.29 under United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
WP.29 was established on 6th June 1952 as Working Party 29 and is presently known as the World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations under the Inland Transport Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The objective of the WP.29 is to initiate and pursue actions aiming the harmonisation or development of technical regulations, which may be accepted worldwide. These regulations are directed at improving vehicle safety, protecting the environment, promoting energy efficiency and anti-theft performance, providing uniform conditions for periodical technical inspections and strengthening economic relations world-wide.
WP.29 administers two UNECE Agreements on harmonisation of vehicular regulations, namely -
1. UNECE 1958 Agreement Concerning the Adoption of Uniform Technical Prescriptions for Wheeled Vehicle, Equipment and Parts Which Can be Fitted and / or be Used on Wheeled Vehicles and the Conditions for Reciprocal Recognition of Approvals Granted on the Basis of These Prescriptions.
2. UNECE 1998 Agreement Concerning the Establishing of Global Technical Regulations for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Parts Which Can be Fitted and /or be Use on Wheeled Vehicles.
The 1958 Agreement is an Agreement made under UNECE with an objective of establishing uniform technical prescriptions for vehicles and their components relating to safety, environment, energy and anti-theft requirements.
The Agreement aims to promote the harmonisation of vehicle regulations and the mutual recognition of type approvals amongst Contracting Parties to the Agreement.
The Agreement in its original form allowed participation of only UNECE members. It was revised in 1995 to promote non-European participation. As on date (May 2005), there are 44 Contracting Parties (and, in addition, Ireland by virtue of accession by the European Community) to this Agreement.
The 1998 Agreement runs parallel to the 1958 Agreement and establishes a process through which countries from all regions of the world can jointly develop Global Technical Regulations (GTRs) for vehicles and their components.
The aim of the Agreement is to promote participation of various countries in the formulation of Global Technical Regulations, but, opposite to the 1958 Agreement, no provisions are given regarding the acceptance of mutual recognition of approvals.
As on date (May 2005), there are 22 Contracting Parties to this Agreement.
The regulations being formulated under this Agreement are known as Global Technical Regulations. Till date, one GTR has been finalised.
India is gradually harmonising its automotive standards with global norms, giving due cognizance to the prevailing national concerns. Union Cabinet in October 2002, approved a proposal to join the World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) as an Observer in the first instance. The Union Cabinet also approved the constitution of a National Level Standing Committee to deal with issues pertaining to WP.29.
Earnest efforts are underway for a meaningful participation in the deliberations of WP.29 and its subsidiary bodies. Expert from India have been regularly participating in sessions of WP.29 and its subsidiary bodies. Government is currently in process of taking a decision regarding joining one or both of the 1958 / 1998 Agreements.
A Road Map has been finalised by MoSRT&H for alignment of Indian Regulations with International regulations.