Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP, right) on Monday morning on the way to the government meeting in Meseberg Castle.
Photo: Michael Kappeler / dpa
Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) is outraged these days: the FDP concerns about the ban on cars with combustion engines in Brussels have not been taken into account.
Discussions with the Commission were initially rejected.
That's why Wissing is now refusing to approve the European Union's climate package, which should have been finalized on Tuesday.
The topic also weighs on the government retreat at Meseberg Castle, which is scheduled to end this afternoon with a press conference by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP).
Transport Minister Wissing followed up again on Deutschlandfunk.
He claimed that he did not only raise the concerns about a combustion engine shutdown now, but months ago.
But this statement seems doubtful, SPIEGEL has a document on it.
It is dated November 16, 2022. It is an instruction from the Federal Government for the meeting of a committee in which the representatives of the member states regularly exchange their positions.
The meeting was about exactly the agreement that the EU Parliament, Council of Ministers and EU Commission had reached a few weeks earlier, on October 27, 2022, in the so-called trilogue procedure on the future of cars with combustion engines.
The directive, issued by the responsible Federal Ministry for the Environment, specifies how the permanent representative of the Federal Government in Brussels is to communicate the Federal Government's position in this body.
"A DEU approval can then be given," it says.
A sentence that precedes the entire document is particularly sensitive for Wissing: “Instructions issued by BMUV, coordinated with BK, BMWK, BMDV, BMF, BMAS.” This refers to the Chancellery and the federal ministries involved.
BMDV - this abbreviation stands for Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport, i.e. the house that Wissing heads.
So did the FDP man first agree to the combustion engine off and now cashed in on his attitude a few months later – throwing the EU into great political unrest?
And are the Greens in the traffic light coalition right when they accuse Wissing of making a radical change with which he wants to profile himself and his party politically - as the savior of the classic car with a combustion engine?
In any case, the document raises many questions.
The federal government obviously agrees with the way the EU handles this issue, which is important for Germany and the German auto industry.
The Commission is expressly thanked "for the successful conclusion of the trilogue negotiations and the associated efforts".
What's more: "In particular, we welcome the fact that recital 9a introduced by Germany was retained unchanged in the final text," says the directive, whereby the explosive recital 9a is exactly what is so important to Wissing: that climate-neutrally manufactured, so-called E -Fuels will continue to be considered by the EU as an option for use in ICE cars after 2035.
So is Wissing's resistance pure bugbear?
According to the document, four conditions are attached to Germany's approval.
One is that the EU Commission should examine the »potential of CO2-neutral fuels to achieve climate-neutral mobility«.
According to this, the federal government is not concerned with making e-fuels possible in any case from 2035 – but first of all with exploring the possibilities for their use.
How can the transport minister agree to such a sentence when he demands in no uncertain terms that cars with combustion engines powered by e-fuels continue to be registered after 2035?
When asked by SPIEGEL, the Federal Ministry of Transport explained: The government had made it clear that the compromise could only be approved if the EU Commission made a proposal "according to which passenger cars and light commercial vehicles with combustion engines that are operated exclusively with e-fuels can also be can be newly registered beyond 2035«.
In addition, the ministry refers to an "oral commitment" made on November 16 at the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the EU member states.
Volker Wissing's house complains: »The Commission has not pursued this topic in any way, and statements by Commissioner Frans Timmermans on this were without exception negative.
We expect the Commission to present a reliable timetable in a timely manner, by when and in what way it will continue to pursue its self-accepted mandate and develop a proposal.
This must ensure that vehicles that can be proven to be fueled only with e-fuels can still be registered after 2035.« Then, and only then, could one agree.
Actually, the compromise negotiated over months between the Commission, the Council of EU states and the European Parliament should have been approved by the ambassadors of the EU states last Wednesday without further debate.
Because of Germany's change of course, the Swedish EU Council Presidency has postponed the vote until further notice.
It is unclear why the Commission has not yet submitted a timetable for implementation.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also answered evasive questions.
However, it is unlikely that the text of the law will be changed again at the request of the FDP - because the entire package would have to be untied again for this to happen.
In such a case, observers expect that other EU countries would also demand changes again.