European Union environment ministers on Monday agreed to German demands to scrap an agreement to cap EU car emissions that Berlin argued would cost jobs and damage its premium auto makers.
After months of forceful lobbying from Germany, the ministers from the 28 EU member states agreed to reopen a deal sealed in June, but said they would work to secure it in weeks, not months.
German carmakers Daimler and BMW produce heavier and less fuel-efficient vehicles than those from firms such as Italy’s Fiat, meaning they would find it challenging to meet a proposed EU cap on carbon emissions of 95 grams per kilometer for all new cars from 2020, analysts say.
“It’s not a fight over principles but how we bind the necessary clarity in climate protection with the required flexibility and competitiveness to protect the car industry in Europe,” Germany’s Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said.
“I am convinced we can find such a solution. We can find it in the next weeks,” he said.
EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told reporters she was disappointed that agreement on implementing a target first laid out five years ago had been blocked.
“It is not a terrific thing that we could not conclude on cars,” she said.
She also said flexibility was limited and a German proposal to delay full implementation of the 95 gram target for four years to 2024 was not acceptable.
Environment campaigners say Germany is abusing the EU’s democratic process, throwing away the chance to make European cars more energy efficient and to reduce the bloc’s dependency on oil imports.