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Negotiations with the EU: Agreement in the combustion engine dispute is approaching


In the combustion dispute between the EU and Germany, an agreement is in sight. According to media reports, Transport Minister Wissing submitted a solution proposal after close consultation with the EU Commission.

In the dispute over the future of new cars with combustion engines, Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing is confident that a workable solution will now be found.

The FDP politician told the German Press Agency that they had consulted closely with the EU Commission and, after careful consideration, submitted a constructive proposal for a solution. “We assume that this not only satisfactorily answers all content-related questions, but also the legal ones.”

The “Spiegel” had previously reported that an agreement was imminent.

“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

New vehicles powered exclusively by e-fuels, even after 2035

Wissing added: “There should be nothing standing in the way of the approval of newly registered vehicles with combustion engines that are fueled exclusively with synthetic fuels even after 2035.”

It is now expected that the EU Commission will issue a corresponding declaration, name clear time targets and initiate the process for corresponding legal acts.

Letter sent to Brussels

In the evening, the ministry had sent a letter in reply to the EU Commission’s latest proposed solutions to Brussels, according to government circles in Berlin. At the beginning of the week, their proposals had become known.

Accordingly, the authority defined a draft of criteria for the approval of new vehicles that are exclusively operated with CO2-neutral fuels. The background to this is a fundamental agreement between the European Parliament and EU states, according to which only zero-emission new cars may be registered in the EU from 2035.

However, Germany is urging that new cars with internal combustion engines that run on e-fuels – i.e. climate-neutral artificial fuels that are produced with green electricity – be permitted after this. A confirmation of the agreement by the EU states, which was planned for early March, was therefore initially prevented by Germany.

Combustion off also occupies the EU summit

Even if not in a large group, the end of combustion engines was also discussed on the sidelines of the EU summit.

There, Chancellor Olaf Scholz once again underlined Berlin’s expectation that the EU Commission would 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’s really just a matter of finding the right way, very pragmatically, to actually implement the promise that the Commission made a long time ago.”

Germany not alone in its position

In some countries, the German blockade attitude had 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 also supports this position now. This is an important signal for us that we will remain technology and innovation friendly.”

With information from Astrid Corall, ARD studio Brussels