The European Commission requests Romania to modify the law regarding pollution taxation (the ex-first car registration law), according to an EC communiqué. The Commission finds the tax discriminatory and designed to protect the national new car industry - the law suspends the tax for certain vehicles and increases it for cars imported from EU member states. The first infringement step has been taken: the EC sent Romania the summons letter.

The current Romanian law, enforced since February 2009, Euro 4 cars with a certain cylindrical capacity do not have to pay pollution tax if their first registration in an EU state between December 12 2008 and December 15 2009. The same law doubles the pollution tax for other cars.

The European Commission considers that "the way the Romanian legislation is laid out seems to have a protectionist effect at the new car national industry level".

According to the European Court of Justice jurisprudence, the member states can employ different taxation for similar products, on condition that this is based on neutral objectives and would not result in protecting the national production. The Commission thinks that the "first registration" criterion is not a fully neutral requirement, because it does not take into account the cars' intrinsic quality. In certain cases, this could lead to discrimination of opportunity cars from other EU member states.

The consequence of the "first registration" requirement is that all new cars registered during the period mentioned above that directly join the Romanian opportunity car market are allowed into traffic without paying the pollution tax. On the other hand, cars of comparable quality, which are the subject of getting a Romanian registration within the same period of time, but which are not actually seeing their first registration but which compete with the national products will be subject to a substantial tax.

Romania has two months to come up with a satisfactory solution. Otherwise, the Commission may proceed to the second step of the procedure, namely issuing a motivated notice and, eventually, it can take the case to the Court of Justice.