VFrom 2035 onwards, only new cars that do not emit carbon dioxide may be registered in the EU. The negotiators from the EU member states and the European Parliament reached a preliminary agreement on this on Thursday evening, thereby confirming the EU Commission’s proposal of July 2021. As an interim goal, the representatives of Parliament and the Council of Ministers decided to reduce CO2 emissions by 55 percent for new cars in 2030 compared to the level of 2021. The interim goal for commercial vehicles is 50 percent. The preliminary agreement now has to be confirmed by the parliamentary plenum and the responsible EU ministers.
The incumbent EU Council President, Czech Industry Minister Jozef Síkela, called the agreement a milestone on the way to a “modern and competitive car industry” in the EU. “The world is changing and we have to drive innovation.” The planned time frame allows the auto industry to achieve the goals. Czech Environment Minister Anna Hubáčková added that the new regulation has what it takes to significantly slow down climate change.
The agreement is likely to herald the end of the combustion engine before 2035. The clause that has now been decided that the regulation should be reviewed again in 2026 should not change that. The EU Commission should then examine whether the goals set can really be achieved. They could then possibly be changed again, depending on how far alternative technologies and the necessary infrastructure for e-cars, for example, have been developed by then. By 2025, the Commission is also to develop a “methodology” to measure the actual emissions of a car throughout its life cycle.
SPD MP Tiemo Wölken praised the agreement as creating planning security for the European automotive industry. “The manufacturers who have set out on the path to electrification now receive confirmation that this path is the right one.”
VDA President: “negligent” decision
The FDP counted it as a success that the request to the Commission was negotiated into the compromise that the use of so-called e-fuels for cars could be an option. The liberals in the federal government had pushed for this. FDP leader Christian Lindner called the EU compromise a wise decision that would ensure openness to technology. The FDP MEP Jan-Christoph Oetjen spoke of a clear mandate to pave the way for the operation of the internal combustion engine with alternative fuels.
The Green MEP Michael Bloss spoke of a “turning point” that would secure tomorrow’s prosperity. “Anyone who still relies on the combustion engine harms the industry, the climate and violates European law.” Bloss is critical of the test order for e-fuels. “The FDP may sell that as a victory, but not everyone can afford this Porsche mentality.” The environmental protection organization Greenpeace criticized that the ban on emission-free new cars should have come in 2028.
The CDU MP Jens Gieseke criticized the compromise. This follows the principle of “everything on one card”, since it means a de facto ban on the combustion engine. “A total ban on a technology goes too far. From our point of view, there should have been a voluntary regulation for climate-neutral biofuels and synthetic fuels.” The test request for e-fuels is not legally binding and can be ignored by the Commission. “The Liberals have sealed the ban on combustion engines,” said Gieseke.
Criticism also comes from the automotive industry. The president of the VDA automotive association, Hildegard Müller, said it was “negligent” to set targets for the period after 2030 without “being able to make appropriate adjustments based on current developments”. As examples, she named the expansion of the charging infrastructure, imminent dependency on raw materials and whether sufficient renewable energies can be generated. The EU must now conclude energy partnerships and raw material agreements as quickly as possible in order to ensure a corresponding supply for the future.