28 Feb 2023, 13:57
Benjamin Wehrmann

German transport minister insists on exception for e-fuels in EU car emissions rules

Bild Zeitung / Euractiv

An effective ban on combustion engines in new cars in the EU by 2035 might not get the approval by Germany if it does not include a clause on allowing engines powered with “climate friendly e-fuels,” transport minister Volker Wissing told the tabloid Bild Zeitung. This should be possible “for the existing fleet and for combustion engines registered after 2035,” the Free Democrat (FDP) politician said. “This is clearly the mandate that the European Commission now has,” Wissing said, arguing that an exception for synthetic e-fuels is needed to clean up the “enormous” fleet of combustion engine cars already on the roads. “There must a compromise regarding fleet emission limits,” the minister said. Otherwise, Germany could not support the measure when EU member state governments take a decision on 7 March, he argued.

Euractiv reported that Wissing told journalists Germany could abstain and would only agree to the deal if the Commission makes a proposal on how vehicles with internal combustion engines running only on e-fuels can be registered even after 2035. Without the German approval, the adoption of the measure is on the brink, said German Green European parliamentarian Michael Bloss, as “Poland and Bulgaria do not want the end of the combustion engine, and Italy also wants to abstain”. A qualified majority would thus be prevented, Bloss tweeted. To adopt the measure in the Council of member state governments, a qualified majority is needed, representing 55 percent of member states and 65 percent of the EU population.

The European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament in October 2022 agreed that from 2035 all newly registered cars and light commercial vehicles must no longer emit CO2 during operation, which means a de-facto ban for combustion engine cars. The fleet limits are to be reduced to zero by 2035 as part of the EU's ‘Fit for 55’ package. A majority of respondents to a survey in Germany commissioned by the mineral oil industry have said they are against banning combustion engines completely. The FDP has repeatedly stood up for giving combustion engines a future and helped earmark nearly two billion euros by the government to support the rollout of e-fuels and "advanced biofuels" in the EU by 2026.

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