March 5. 2024. 1:15

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Bulgaria opposes EU combustion ban citing poverty


Bulgaria has joined Germany, Italy and Poland in opposing the EU proposal for a de facto ban on petrol and diesel cars from 2035, citing the country’s poor citizens as the main factor in the decision.

“The most sensitive issues for the country regarding decarbonisation in the transport sector remain the relatively high price of electric vehicles against the background of the extremely low incomes of the population in the country, as well as the lack of a developed charging infrastructure” the Bulgarian government told EURACTIV Bulgaria.

There are no car assembly factories in Bulgaria, but the automotive sector is relatively well developed with the production of components, cables and automotive software, and the industry’s total turnover amounts to €6.5 billion or 8% of the country’s GDP.

At the same time, the country’s capacity to accommodate electric cars is very limited. While a project to build an electric car factory in northern Bulgaria with German investor backing is underway, it is still unclear when the plant will start production.

For most Bulgarians, buying a new car is impossible.

Bulgarians use cars for an average of 19 years, the highest figure in the EU. Bulgarians also buy cars seven times older than new ones, most of which are imported from Germany and Italy.

“Taking into account the national characteristics of each EU member state, including the significant differences in terms of the purchasing power of the population and the affordability of new cars, remains a priority for our country, and unfortunately, we do not consider that the proposed compromise text reflects these considerations in a sufficient degree”, the government claims.

Bulgaria’s concerns are also related to the expected increase in imports of used cars from richer member states due to replacing oil engines with electrification. Old cars are expected to be sold for even cheaper in Bulgaria.

“With this, the general state of the car fleet in countries like Bulgaria, instead of improving, could achieve the opposite effect. The same applies to the purity of the atmospheric air”, the government adds.

“Environmental protection should not lead to a potential reduction in the safety of vehicles,” they said.

Another important factor for Bulgaria is technological neutrality – a key point for Germany.

“We recognise the important role of alternative fuels, including biofuels (including biomethane), in limiting emissions from road transport. In this regard, Bulgaria is in favour of taking into account the role of vehicles powered by similar fuels, including hybrids,” the government in Sofia said

According to Bulgaria, the recognition of the use of renewable fuels will provide manufacturers with the necessary flexibility to progress towards electrification without taking commercial risks, avoid situations of lack of affordable vehicles and allow manufacturers of parts and components to adapt to new technologies.

Bulgaria insists on providing effective incentives for introducing vehicles with zero and low emissions, as well as measures to overcome the price differences compared to conventional cars. The government claims there is consumer mistrust of certain types of low-carbon technology and is pushing for incentives to encourage the purchase of electric cars.

“In the projects to amend the EU legislation in the relevant area, over-ambitious goals are set, which could have a negative impact, especially in the current situation of economic and energy crisis, production and supply problems, as well as the impact of the war in Ukraine”, the government added.

(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)