The planned end for the approval of combustion engines in the EU could fail shortly before completion due to the German blockade. Regardless of resistance from the federal government, a vote on the ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2035 will be held next Tuesday, as a spokesman for the Swedish Presidency of the Council of Ministers announced on Wednesday. Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) recently threatened that Germany could not agree to the planned vote. In this case, the necessary majority could tip over.
A vote by at least 15 countries representing at least 65 percent of the EU population is required. Actually, negotiators from the European Parliament and the EU states had already agreed in October that from 2035 only new cars may be sold in the EU that do not emit any greenhouse gases during operation. Votes like Tuesday's are usually a formality.
Wissing justified his resistance with the fact that the EU Commission has not yet submitted a proposal on how only vehicles fueled with climate-friendly fuels such as e-fuels can be approved after 2035. This was part of the agreement in the Council of EU States in June 2022, with which the FDP could be persuaded to agree within the federal government.
"We need e-fuels, because there is no alternative to operating our existing fleet in a climate-neutral manner," said Wissing on Wednesday in the ARD "Morgenmagazin". Anyone who is serious about climate-neutral mobility must keep all technological options open. This also included combustion engines that fill up with e-fuels.
Criticism from the ranks of the Greens
The federal government announced on Wednesday that it had not yet found a unified position on the issue. The talks were still ongoing, said a spokesman for the green-led Federal Ministry for the Environment. Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said that the Commission must now act quickly on the question of the use of e-fuels.
Criticism of Wissing's attitude was voiced from the ranks of the Greens. Bremen's Mobility Senator Maike Schaefer told the German Press Agency that the car lobby was driving Wissing and the FDP. There is a compromise paper from the federal government with a test order for e-fuels. Wissing has no mandate to announce that Germany could not agree to a combustion engine exit.
"The debate about the use of e-fuels in cars is pure wishful thinking on the part of fans of combustion engines, given the energy intensity involved in their production, despite all their belief in technology," says Schaefer. "The fact that the FDP is targeting this group of voters shows that the fight against the climate crisis is less and less important to them in view of the dwindling votes."
The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), on the other hand, backed Wissing. "We need all climate-friendly technologies to achieve the EU climate targets," said VDA boss Hildegard Müller. Because e-fuels are particularly important for the climate balance of combustion engines that have already been approved, the debate must be conducted again. Now it is the Commission's turn.