NAfter the “No” of the FDP, the planned ban on combustion engines in 2035 could now be overturned at European level. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke from the Greens insists that the coalition has agreed on approval. So far, however, the FDP has not softened. This has also created new momentum at EU level. Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Portugal and Slovakia, at least, are now calling for the end to be postponed to 2040 in a joint paper presented on Thursday. The paper is available to the FAZ.
By 2035, the CO2 emissions of new cars are to be reduced “only” by 90 percent. The car companies would still have to convert a large part of their fleet to electric vehicles, but they could at least sell some combustion engines or hybrid vehicles. In addition, the five countries require that synthetic fuels or e-fuels be counted towards achieving the targets. The European Parliament also discussed both proposals, but rejected them in the week after Pentecost.
The advance comes at a critical time. Next Tuesday, the French EU Council Presidency wants to reach agreement on large parts of the Commission’s “Fit for 55” package from last July at a meeting of environment ministers. The package aims to reduce the EU’s CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The ban on combustion engines for new cars is intended to make a contribution to this. The ambassadors of the EU countries should already deal with it on Friday afternoon.
Germany tipping the scales
The five signatories to the paper in the Council of Ministers alone do not have the sufficient blocking minority to stop the end of combustion engines in 2035. The rejection of the ban by Hungary, which is also to be expected, will not change anything. This is exactly where the federal government comes into play. If they are unable to agree on a common position due to resistance from the FDP and subsequently have to abstain, this will have the effect of a dissenting vote. Because this would miss the goal required for a qualified majority, that 65 percent of the EU population must agree, the EU Commission’s proposal would have failed.
The French Presidency must now try to negotiate a compromise. According to diplomats, Spain and Poland have so far supported the EU Commission’s original proposal to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars by 100 percent by 2035. According to Brussels, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg and Sweden have even spoken out in favor of 2030. It is also quite conceivable that opponents of the phasing out of combustion engines will be persuaded to agree by making concessions to other laws in the climate package. In total, the package includes a dozen laws.
However, when the Council of Ministers has determined its position on Tuesday next week, the legislative process will not be complete anyway. Ministers and the European Parliament then have to agree on a common position. Even if the EU states agree on relaxing or postponing the ban on combustion engines in 2035, Parliament can still overturn it.