As one of many different voices present in the capital of Europe, the ECATRA office operates as the European representative of a specific industry - in our case, the car and truck rental industry.
Of course, ECATRA is not alone and in fact is one of the 4,000 different organisations present in Brussels that represent and lobby on behalf of their own sectors.
What remains a major target, and has been for many years, is the recognition of our industry as a full economic player.
For example, car rental is a large part of tourism, long-term rental is a major player in the company car sector and truck rental is an important factor in the transport industry.
It was not until 1995, when block exemption came up for renewal, that the European Commission realised ECATRA members are the largest buyers of vehicles in Europe.
Today, with a fleet of nearly five million vehicles, it means we are buying nearly two million vehicles a year from European manufacturers.
Despite this, ECATRA has to make its voice represented among the 15,000 people who specialise in European affairs and who surround the EU. And it is not so easy to have your voice heard among all those people!
That's why ECATRA follows every development involving vehicle and transportation issues within the new rafts of regulations, projects, directives and surveys issued by the EU.
Special attention is also given to issues that concern the internal market and the services where some development has to be seen in the near future.
In the area of security, ECATRA has a special committee which includes experts who put together information and best practice to fight against crime involving cars and trucks.
Following tax issues is also a high priority of ECATRA's and for many years the protective attitude of governments has considerably hindered the free movement of people and vehicles in Europe.
Unfortunately, we cannot see fiscal or accounting issues becoming harmonised in the forseeable future.
The launch of the Euro in 2002 is, certainly, a facilitating factor for the cross rental business.
ECATRA has, for many years, supported the liberalisation of transport in Europe, which today still contains high discrimination.
We hope that the EU bodies will listen to ECATRA's messages and consider the association as a main reference point and a key authority for a large part of services connected to the automobile and transport industries. (September 2001)