The European Commission has announced this Saturday that it has reached an agreement with Germany to unblock the approval of the standard that sets the end of combustion vehicles.
And it has done so by clearly including an exception for cars that use a certain type of fuel, the so-called synthetics or
are climate neutral.
Berlin had paralyzed for weeks the European regulation, already agreed and negotiated, which seeks that from 2035 cars with polluting engines cannot be registered in the Union.
The German veto and the ways of doing it had caused great friction with Brussels and with other Member States.
"We have reached an agreement with Germany on the future use of synthetic fuels in cars," Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the Commission in charge of the Green Pact, said on Twitter.
German Transport Minister Volker Wissing has confirmed the pact: "Vehicles equipped with a combustion engine can be registered after 2035 only if they use CO₂-neutral fuels," he said.
Brussels wants the CO₂ standards regulation to be adopted as soon as possible, Timmermans has said.
In recent days, Berlin had shown itself open to accepting the European Commission's proposal to create a new category of vehicles that use
once the European ban on selling new cars with internal combustion engines comes into force in 2035. with fossil fuels.
However, the agreement has only been reached after the summit of EU leaders held on Thursday and Friday.
Olaf Scholz's executive unleashed the storm when he announced in early March that he would vote against plans to ban cars with combustion engines from 2035, unless an exception was included for so-called synthetic fuels or e-
He did it surprisingly and at the last minute, after a two-year negotiation that had resulted in an agreement between the Commission, Parliament and the Council, which only needed to be ratified.
Behind Berlin's last-minute demand are the liberals, partners in Scholz's tripartite coalition, who have wanted to establish themselves in public opinion as defenders of the interests of the powerful German automobile industry.
The move by the German government, which has turned against the Commission and not a few European states, cannot be explained without knowing the delicate balance of power in Berlin.
The Liberals, sunk in the polls and after a losing streak in the regional elections, needed to stand up to Scholz and, above all, the Greens, showing their own profile.
Its Minister of Transport, Volker Wissing, has endorsed the arguments of a part of the manufacturers, who defend that it is necessary to leave the door open so that cars with combustion engines can use fuels that do not generate emissions in the future.
The party, which barely represents 5% of the current voting intention, also has a majority of Germans on its side, 67%, who believe that new cars with combustion engines should not be banned from 2035, according to a recent survey commissioned by public television.
That door was actually already open, say Commission sources.
The wording of the standard was ambiguous enough to allow the use of climate-neutral fuels in any type of engine.
In addition, sources in Brussels assure that the spirit of the measure was also understood in the regulation.
But the liberals, and by extension Germany, have been pushing for that exception to be fixed in some legal text in a literal way.
They demanded a written commitment that the use of e-fuels will be specifically regulated
Some German manufacturers, especially high-end manufacturers, have been working on the development of synthetic fuels for years and, on the other hand, are behind in the deployment of electric vehicles, a sector in which China and even the United States lead the industry. german.
The German maneuver has made the European Commission and some Member States fear that other countries will demand that the entire agreement be reopened (Italy, for example, demands a separate solution for biofuels).
This would jeopardize the most extensive package, called Fit for 55, which seeks to guarantee that the EU reduces its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% -compared to 1990 levels- by 2030, say sources in Brussels.
The EU-27 energy ministers will review the deal on Tuesday, but it is expected to be again just the original proposal, as the exemption Germany has won is expected to remain in what is known as a delegated act (a text legal that modifies or complements a regulation), and that can be done later, when some technical details have just been fitted, the same sources explain.
are climate neutral artificial fuels (such as e-methane or e-kerosene), which are produced with green electricity, such as renewable or low carbon.
For now, they are in the early stages, they are very expensive to produce, which is why they are scarce, and different studies indicate that by 2035 they will not be a cheap and abundant option either, quite the contrary.
The Transport & Environment organization has calculated this week that they would increase the average cost of filling a deposit to 210 euros.
In 2030 this type of fuel would cost around 2.8 euros per liter, 50% more than the fossil fuels (gasoline and diesel) that are currently used.
In the proposal that the Commission made this week to Berlin to try to overcome its resistance, it is made explicit that cars with combustion engines must include a technological solution, in the form of sensors, that detect the type of fuel that is being used, so that that the vehicle can't even start if it is refueled with fossils.
European legislation dictates that from 2035 no more cars that use gasoline or diesel will be sold, but those already registered will still be able to continue driving for a few years and refueling at traditional gas stations.
Brussels wants to make sure that the exception does not allow the rogue to continue filling the tank with fossil fuels to cars that should only run on climate-neutral
After learning of the agreement, one of Scholz's Social Democratic ministers, Karl Lauterbach, of Health, has tweeted something that everyone actually knew: "Cars with
They use six times more electricity than electric ones.
They are niche products, they will never become fashionable”.
Experts say that this type of fuel is more useful in sectors that are difficult to electrify, such as aviation or maritime transport.
It will be difficult to generalize in the case of cars.
That is why in Brussels the role of Germany has been attended with surprise and indignation.
Many allies consider this an institutional disloyalty that opens a very dangerous door, because if Berlin, in theory a reliable partner, dares to jeopardize a key environmental and economic norm, who will be able to stop other partners who constantly defy the legislative unit of the bloc?
Voices such as that of the Spanish Third Vice President and Minister of Ecological Transition have defined the agreement reached this Saturday as "good news" that "unblocks" what had become a major point of friction.
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