February 26. 2024. 6:27

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Commission, Germany edge closer towards combustion engine ban deal


The European Commission and Germany’s Digital and Transport Ministry are confident an agreement on the EU combustion engine ban can be reached, after a call between Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP/Renew Europe) and EU Climate Chief Frans Timmermans on Thursday.

Wissing made headlines last week when he threatened to abstain from voting in favour of the EU’s combustion engine ban, stating that Germany will only agree if the Commission offers a proposal for the continued approval of combustion engines after 2035, under the condition that they run exclusively on e-fuels.

Wissing’s veto did not only anger EU officials but also the Greens in the ruling coalition, which accused Wissing and his liberal FDP party of being “whipped” by the German automotive sector.

“We think it’s a breach of trust,” one EU diplomat said of Germany’s threat, according to NTV.

“One would hope that the internal coalition disputes would be settled beforehand,” the diplomat also said, adding that the move would raise questions about Germany’s trustworthiness in reaching agreements.

Still, the Commission and the German minister are optimistic a compromise will soon be found.

According to Handelsblatt, Wissing and Timmermans spoke over the phone to find a definition for climate-neutral vehicles that would not merely be based on emissions. Timmermans previously ruled out any usage of e-fuels in road transport.

“Our common goal is climate protection. But that doesn’t just mean electrification. Unilateral governmental specifications on how to achieve this and regulation for regulation’s sake are not conducive to achieving our goals. Openness to different approaches is better,” Wissing tweeted.

“There is no need for bans on climate-friendly technologies just because they may be expensive at this point in time. Technology, innovation and usage could change that. What still doesn’t catch on then doesn’t need to be banned. It simply won’t be used,” he added.

The German government is now counting on Timmermans to work out how the usage of e-fuels in combustion engines could be integrated into the law proposal.

(Benedikt Stöckl| EURACTIV.de)