In a good 12 years, all new cars in the EU should be emission-free. Representatives of the European Parliament and the EU states spoke out in favor of this step on Thursday evening in Brussels. What does the decision mean for drivers? The most important questions and answers:
What exactly was decided?
The EU agreed that the so-called fleet limits for cars should drop to zero by 2035. These specify to car manufacturers how much CO2 the vehicles they produce may emit during operation. New petrol and diesel cars that emit greenhouse gases will no longer be allowed to be sold from 2035. However, it should be possible to review the decision again in 2026. In addition, the compromise includes a request to the EU Commission to check whether the use of so-called e-fuels for cars could be an option in the future.
Is this now the definitive end of the combustion engine?
That depends on the interpretation. The Liberal MP Jan-Christoph Oetjen writes: "The European Commission must enable the continued operation of the internal combustion engine with alternative fuels even after 2035." Greens and environmental organizations, on the other hand, interpret the result differently. Green negotiator Bas Eickhout said the goal of only allowing zero-emission cars was maintained until the market was fully electric. Greenpeace assumes that e-fuels will only be used in special vehicles such as fire engines or ambulances in the future. Even with the review in 2026, many observers consider it unlikely that the ban will be overturned again. In theory, the climate targets could also be tightened. However, the result of this review by the EU Commission remains to be seen.
Can I still drive my petrol or diesel engine after 2035?
Yes. When the bill comes into force, only the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines would be restricted. Although the fleet limits are about the emission of greenhouse gases while the car is being driven, the zero emissions target would only apply to sellers of new cars.
What happens to my old combustion engine?
Are the restrictions coming anyway?
If the negotiators of the two EU institutions have agreed on a compromise, the Council of Ministers or Parliament still has to give their formal approval. Theoretically, such a compromise could also be overturned if governments or parliamentary groups oppose it. However, since the red lines of the negotiation participants are known in advance, there is usually a majority for the compromises - as soon as one is found.
Is the next step a driving ban for combustion engines?
This is not to be expected. Plans to completely ban cars with internal combustion engines from the streets have not yet been discussed. It is realistic that a sales ban would automatically make classic petrol and diesel vehicles increasingly rare.
Does the ban only apply to cars?
No, smaller vans are also affected.
What about the charging infrastructure in Germany?
As of September 1, the Federal Network Agency was notified of almost 70,000 publicly accessible charging points for electric cars in Germany. At the beginning of 2021 there were almost 41,600. The Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) recently assessed the progress in the expansion of charging stations as good. However, the Association of the Automotive Industry has repeatedly had doubts as to whether the expansion is actually progressing quickly enough.
Press release of the EU Parliament Communication EU States