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Germany’s Scholz refuses to back down in car engine standoff with Brussels

Germany’s Scholz refuses to back down in car engine standoff with Brussels

Berlin is balking at approving the deal despite it already being agreed by member countries.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday made clear that he's fully behind the effort to press the European Commission to amend its effort to ban the sale of new polluting combustion engine vehicles from 2035 by creating a loophole for so-called e-fuels.

Pushed by the Free Democratic Party, a junior member of Germany's three-party coalition, Berlin is balking at approving the 2035 deal despite it already being agreed by member countries and the European Parliament. Germany is joined by Italy, Poland and Bulgaria, and the opposition prompted the Swedish Council presidency to postpone a vote by EU ministers that had been scheduled for Tuesday.

What the FDP's sportscar-loving leader Christian Lindner wants is a late change to EU rules to allow the use of e-fuels, made from captured CO2 which can be used as an expensive replacement for fossil fuels. As currently written, the EU's rule would ban tailpipe emissions from 2035, effectively excluding e-fuels, which do emit CO2. That would force automakers to switch to either electric of hydrogen models, causing potential problems for countries with big car industries.

Berlin wants the Commission to first put forward a proposal for e-fuels before it agrees to stop blocking the final approval of the 2035 rules.

“The government is united in expecting that the European Commission ... will make a proposal which is aimed at how e-fuels can be used after 2035," Scholz said during a press conference with senior ministers on Monday.

Standing alongside him, Lindner said Germany needs a "legally sound, clear link" between the EU's call to impose zero emissions limits by 2035 and the possibility of allowing cars using e-fuels to still be sold.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met with the German government on Sunday, but failed to end the standoff.

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