By Daniel Aronssohn
The adoption by European Union member countries of new carbon dioxide emission standards for cars and vans has been postponed amid opposition from Germany, the presidency of the EU ministers’ council has announced.
The vote initially scheduled for next week will take place at a “later council meeting” on a date yet to be announced, according to the Swedish presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Germany’s transportation minister said this week that his country would not back a proposed EU ban on the sale of new cars with combustion engines from 2035. He wanted assurances from the bloc’s executive arm that there would be an exemption for synthetic fuels.
Germany’s veto against the proposal left officials in Brussels furious.
One official told Politico: “This block is not at the 11th-hour or even at the 12th-hour. We had a deal, the law was agreed and voted in the European Parliament.
“If you can’t rely on political agreements anymore, it gets really dangerous.
The conservative European People’s Party group, which is the largest bloc in the European Parliament, is also opposing the ban and called on member countries to do the same.
“The ban will prevent innovation and cost thousands of jobs and will lead to the decline of a core European industry,” said Jens Gieseke, the EPP Group lead negotiator on the planned regulation.
MEPs and member nations reached a preliminary deal last year that would force automakers to reduce new car emissions by 55 percent in 2030 relative to 2021 levels, and by 100 percent in 2035.
Berlin has upset EU partners by blocking a milestone agreement to ban new sales of fossil fuel cars from 2035, as German domestic politics takes the bloc hostage.
The planned ban is key to Brussels’ push to make the bloc climate-neutral by 2050, with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, the German chancellor’s scramble to keep his coalition together has enraged many in the EU, since the deal had already passed through each stage of the Brussels legislative process — including approval by member states.
French MEP Pascal Canfin, who oversaw the bill’s passage though scrutiny in parliament, slammed Berlin’s “blackmail”.
He warned that if other member states follow suit on issues important for their domestic agenda it could threaten other texts that form part of the EU’s Green Deal, an ambitious push to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
“The very spirit of European construction is in danger through this incoherent position,” he told AFP.