He was elected at an ETRA meeting in Bremen last week. ETRA representents powered two-wheeler (PTWs) dealers as well as independent bicycle dealers.
Hill, a youthful 40-year old, has been ETRA's vice-president since March 2000.
He also sits on the board of the ACT, and has been the ACT's representative within ETRA since 1999, never having missed a meeting in the five years he's been on the board (all except the one when he was elected president, thanks to a back injury).
“I see ETRA as a vital instrument in putting the interests of the two-wheel retailers’ community first. ETRA is the only association with the necessary in-depth knowledge and passion for our businesses and livelihoods. The main task of our association is to bring together the national professional associations in order to confer on what is in our interest and on what the European Commission has dreamt up that needs our direction. Civil servants do not always get the right idea and it is our job to influence their proposals.
“Whilst individual countries will have their unique problems, the UK with its almost anti-cycle attitude to share the road as an example, over my short term of office on the Committee, I have been struck by how similar each country’s worries and experiences are. This, I believe, is proof that each country can learn from and strengthen each other.”
In order to strengthen ETRA’s collective muscle, Hill believes it important to expand the ETRA membership and to provide services that encourage more trade associations around Europe to join ETRA. For that purpose, in Bremen, the Assembly of the Members agreed to change the ETRA formation contract. To date, membership of ETRA was reserved for trade associations located in the EU and in the EFTA. Now, ETRA has been opened to associations in the candidate member states of the EU.
Hill succeeds Jacques Lenel who has been ETRA president for six years.
“The presidency allowed me to work with colleagues from nine different countries. I have met competent and sympathetic people who love their trade," said Lenel.
"I am passing on the chair with some nostalgia but also with a lot of gratitude. When I became involved in the two-wheel business, more than 50 years ago, I had no idea I was going to complete my career as president of a European association.”
Lenel, who has a bicycle and moped shop in Charleville-Mézières, France, was one of the founders of ETRA. He was part of a small group of retailers who, in 1995, thought it was necessary to set up a European trade association for bicycle and moped retailers.
During Lenel’s presidency, three new members joined ETRA: MP-Kauppiaat r.y., the Finnish association for motorcycle retailers; VSF, a German IBD association; and Rotarij, a Belgian association of two-wheel retailers. Right now, ETRA represents 6000+ retailers, which employ approximately 14 000 people, in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Luxemburg and Switzerland.
ETRA is a proactive monitor of European legislation as it impacts on bicycle and PTW retailers. Currently, ETRA is working on the reduction of VAT rates for new bicycle sales, a European ban on bikes in boxes, defining the legal status of electric mini-scooters, protection of design, insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles and the review of anti-tampering measures.