Blockade with Germany possible
Five EU countries want to soften combustion engine off
06/23/2022, 10:01 p.m
In Germany, the coalition is arguing about a ban on the sale of new cars with combustion engines from 2035. Five EU countries are even certain that they want to at least soften the ban on combustion engines. Together with Germany, they could prevent the upcoming decision.
Shortly before an important EU ministerial meeting, the majority for the planned phasing out of combustion engines in 2035 suddenly wobbled: On Tuesday, the 27 environment ministers in Luxembourg want to vote on a common position on the EU Commission’s controversial draft law. In Germany, the FDP demands that the federal government does not agree to the project at the meeting, provoking a coalition dispute. According to information from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, five other EU governments are now calling for the regulation to be softened.
The newspaper quotes from a joint discussion paper by Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, which the EU ambassadors of the 27 member states are to discuss this Friday. These five countries, along with Germany, would have a blocking minority and could thus prevent ministers from adopting a position on Tuesday.
According to the newspaper, the five countries in the paper are calling for carbon emissions from new cars to be reduced by just 90 percent by 2035 instead of 100 percent. Car companies could then continue to sell some combustion models, even if the majority of the fleet has to be electric. The 100 percent, i.e. the complete ban, would not come into effect until 2040.
Germany could abstain from the vote
According to Finance Minister Christian Lindner, the federal government will not agree to a ban on the sale of new cars with combustion engines from 2035 at EU level. The FDP politician said there will be regions of the world where electromobility cannot be introduced for the next few decades. If there is a ban on the new registration of the combustion engine, then it will not be further developed, at least not in Europe and Germany. That’s why he thinks a decision to ban the combustion engine de facto is wrong, said Lindner: “I’ve therefore decided that I in the federal government, that we in the federal government, will not agree to this European legislation.”
Just a few hours earlier, at an event on the mobility transition, Environment Minister Steffi Lemke had declared that the “entire federal government” had agreed in March to “support the EU Commission’s proposal in all forms”.
At the meeting of EU environment ministers next Tuesday, the decision does not have to be unanimous; a qualified majority is sufficient. Germany could also abstain from the vote if the fronts remain as hardened as they are at the moment. A qualified majority is achieved under two conditions: first, at least 15 of the 27 EU countries must agree, and they must represent at least 65 percent of the total EU population.
However, before a ban can come into force, the EU states must also come to an agreement with the European Parliament. In Brussels, many are currently assuming that there will be an end to new combustion engines from 2035. Then the decision would also be binding for Germany – regardless of whether the federal government had previously given its approval or not.