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Combustion dispute at the EU summit: Approaching at a snail’s pace


As expected, there was no major breakthrough at the EU summit in the dispute over the end of combustion engines. Everyone involved was at least confident. Instead, ammunition deliveries to Ukraine were decided.

By Astrid Corall, ARD Studio Brussels

This time, the EU heads of state and government have spared themselves a night session. Around half past nine, the first left the Council building last night, where they had previously discussed issues such as the EU’s competitiveness, climate change and migration.

Although not in a large group, the end of the combustion engine from 2035 was also discussed. The member states and the European Parliament actually agreed on this in October, but now Germany is blocking the final decision.

Because for Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz there is a clear understanding that the EU Commission will propose a regulation “that ensures that after 2035 vehicles that can only be operated with e-fuels can continue to be registered. That is already a consensus. And it The only thing left to do now is to find the right way, very pragmatically, to implement the promise that the Commission made a long time ago.”

“Germany wants a legally binding declaration”, Michael Grytz, ARD Brussels, on the combustion engine dispute at the EU summit

daily topics 10:15 p.m., 23.3.2023

Germany not alone in its position

In some countries, the German position is met with clear criticism, the Latvian and Belgian Prime Ministers, for example, expressed incomprehension. But the federal government is not alone with its position. Italy and Austria, for example, are also committed to e-fuels.

After the first day of the summit, Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer said that there was a lot of approval for what he calls the green combustion engine. According to him, it also came from a country that had previously criticized Germany’s actions.

France now also supports this position. For us, this is an important signal that we will remain technology and innovation friendly.

Von der Leyen sees progress

However, French President Emmanuel Macron himself did not make any public statements at this summit. And as expected, the dispute over the combustion engine was not resolved. Instead, talks between the Ministry of Transport in Berlin and the EU Commission are continuing. According to Olaf Scholz, they are on the right track. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also sees progress in the negotiations:

I just want to mention that in this case time is of the essence as this project is an important pillar of our Fit for 55 climate package. That’s why we’re intensifying the talks and I’m confident that we’ll find a good solution soon.

Summit approves plan to supply ammunition to Ukraine

Von der Leyen welcomed the leaders’ endorsement of a plan to supply Ukraine with 1 million artillery shells over the next 12 months. The war played a bigger role at yesterday’s summit.

Among other things, a euro summit is on the agenda today, which will also deal with the recent turbulence in the banking sector in Switzerland and the USA. The President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, is also there – and could repeat what she recently emphasized in the European Parliament: “The completion of the banking union and the full development of the capital markets union are essential. For this we need a binding timetable, which the finance ministers are now preparing must.”

But: The completion of the banking union has so far failed, among other things, due to resistance from Germany.