Brussels has launched a proposal to circumvent the unexpected German veto on the European ban on the sale of new combustion cars from 2035, which has created indignation among many members of the Twenty-seven and even concern, due to the dangerous political precedent that implies that a a large country in the EU to reverse an agreement practically closed by all parties. The idea of the European Commission, which has not yet accepted Berlin, would be to create a new category of vehicles that use the so-called e-fuelsas claimed by Germany, although, yes, exclusively and with guarantees that fossil fuels cannot be used.
The Brussels text, to which EL PAÍS has had access and which was advanced by the Reuters agency, has been presented to Berlin under great discretion in view of the irritation of other capitals over the stubborn no German. The proposal requires various guarantees from the manufacturers of these vehicles, which would continue to use combustion engines, to ensure that, in no case, drivers will be able to refuel with fossil fuels after 2035, the extreme that the original European agreement sought to avoid to accelerate the goal for the EU to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 – compared to 1990 levels – and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
The positions seemed entrenched in view of the fact that both the European Commission, author of the proposal, and several countries, especially France and Spain, had strongly opposed retouching the arduously negotiated text in a trilogue format (Council and Parliament, with the presence of the Commission ). This same Tuesday, two days after the start of a summit of European leaders in Brussels that will bring together, among others, the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, returned to ask Germany to stop blocking the deal.
“We reached an agreement that there would be no thermal vehicles by 2035. I think we should stick to what we agreed to, and I have no doubt that the Germans are going to reach an agreement within their (governing) coalition,” Colonna said. France fears that reforming the text could cause a further delay for the European automobile industry in the race for electric cars, in which countries like China or the United States, he recalls, already have a considerable advantage. But the German rejection has also been gaining some supporters, especially Italy, whose government also says it is irritated with what it considers a “furious decarbonization policy” from Brussels.
Until today, community and diplomatic sources assure that not a single comma of the original document will be touched. But made the rule, made the trap, and it would not be the first time that Brussels has found a back door to negotiate, without ever saying that word, a way out of an impasse.
This time, the solution would be not to change the negotiated text itself, but rather the rules on which it is based. Specifically, the regulations concerning the type approval of motor vehicles with regard to emissions. In this way, the two parties are allowed to maintain their positions: technically, the agreed text has not been renegotiated, but it serves the German demand to be able to build engines for use with synthetic fuels from 2035.
The key would be, according to various sources consulted in Brussels, in getting Berlin to accept that the formulation of “technological neutrality” that the Commission has always defended and that is in the preamble to the text agreed by the European institutions gives sufficient guarantees to German builders about what includes engines powered by synthetic fuels or e-fuels.
Berlin received the draft at the end of last week and, for now, has not accepted the solution proposed by Brussels. Officials at the Transport Ministry, run by liberal Volker Wissing, are currently working on an alternative draft. The discrepancies within the German coalition government, made up of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals, have not been resolved. According to information from Der Spiegel, the Ministry of the Environment, in the hands of the Greens, would agree with the draft of the Commission, but the Liberals insist on another solution. Chancellor Scholz has demanded that the dispute be resolved before traveling to the summit of heads of state and government to be held this Thursday and Friday in Brussels.
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