EU leaders’ summit ends on automotive cliffhanger – POLITICO

Press play to listen to this article

Expressed by artificial intelligence.

BRUSSELS — As European Union leaders leave their summit on Friday, the future of the cars that will take them home still hangs in the balance, with a seemingly imminent deal between Berlin and Brussels delayed yet again.

Indeed, resolving a row over the EU’s plan to ban sales of new combustion-engined cars by 2035 hinges on whether the European Commission and Germany can agree on a language that will satisfy both parties.

Berlin, along with several allies, has hijacked previously agreed legislation requiring the Commission to create a loophole to allow the sale of certain traditional combustion engine vehicles after 2035 as long as they run on synthetic fuels or e-fuels – which are, in theory, carbon neutral.

On Thursday evening, the German government presented the Commission with a pre-written legal statement in which the EU executive would promise to find a legal route to allow the sale of these vehicles after 2035. And early Friday morning, the Commission responded with this that a German government official said these were only moderate changes to the draft declaration, apparently paving the way for an agreement.

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing was set to announce a breakthrough in his home country’s capital Mainz at 2 p.m., allowing EU ambassadors to give their approval at a political meeting scheduled for Brussels from 3 p.m. so that the 2035 legislation can finally get its approval from energy ministers next Tuesday and become law.

But like most long journeys, things did not go according to the original roadmap, and the prospects for a quick agreement crumbled under the complexity of the legal acrobatics necessary to satisfy Germany’s demands.

Two officials, one in Berlin and the other in Brussels, say the bargaining is down to legal language – and how to create this exclusion on a solid legal basis. The Commission has proposed a new regulatory pathway for combustion engine cars running exclusively on electric fuels as part of its permanent Euro 6 law – one of Berlin’s key demands. Germany wants further clarification on the technology needed to ensure cars can only run on synthetic alternatives to petrol and diesel.

But the Commission faces a tougher time in giving Berlin guarantees that it can pass ancillary legislation to the 2035 Zero Emission Cars Act expanding the mandate to include e-fuels. The German government insists on this assurance to lift its roadblock.

Two EU diplomats working on the case say they fear such a move could be challenged by the European Parliament and the courts, as the Commission has no mandate to reopen or extend basic legislation enshrining the targets. 2035 zero emissions for the sale of cars and vans.

“We had very intensive discussions and are now in the process of reaching a concrete agreement,” Wissing told German television on Thursday afternoon. “We need to clarify where and how the element of technological neutrality And thus the pursuit of the approval of the combustion engine after 2035 will be incorporated into European law. And we negotiate this issue to the smallest detail.

To further complicate the situation, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said as she left the summit that she was committed to finding her own solution for biofuels.

“There was a convergence between us and Germany saying: electric vehicles are not the only option, there are other options – hydrogen, chemical fuels – which should be looked at,” said Meloni.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said as she left the summit she was committed to finding her own solution for biofuels | Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

This puts additional pressure on the Commission to make the car engine loophole work for its biggest auto players.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz struck a note of optimism following a bilateral with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, a staunch supporter of the 2035 legislation, which was agreed under the French Council Presidency last year.

“I know journalism is part of (the) entertainment business, and you don’t like to see us agree,” Scholz said as the summit closed. “But we will find an agreement.”

Leaving the summit, Macron said Scholz “was very, very clear, there is no turning back” on the ambitions of the 2035 legislation. “So without reopening the trilogues, we are looking for technical options to bring a answer.”

Gabriel Rinaldi contributed reporting.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button