Barely approved, already blocked? The end of new thermal engine vehicles in the European Union could take longer than expected. The debate is already raging before the start of negotiations between the 27. Italy, supported by four other countries, proposes to postpone until 2040 the end of the sale of thermal engine cars in the EU, against 2035 in the proposal for Brussels currently being discussed by Member States.
As part of its ambitious climate plan, the European Commission wants to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars in the EU to zero from 2035. This would mean the end of sales of petrol and diesel vehicles replaced exclusively by 100% engines. electrical.
The European Parliament endorsed this 2035 target at the beginning of June. Member states must now attempt, at a meeting of European environment ministers on Tuesday in Luxembourg, to negotiate a common position on the subject by qualified majority. This is anything but certain, as the protests of member states have been heard in recent days.
Italy’s proposal signed by Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia calls for a 5-year postponement of the calendar to avoid “disproportionate and unnecessary costs for the automotive sector and for consumers” the 2035 target would entail. The text put forward by Italy suggests imposing a 90% reduction in emissions for sales of new individual cars in 2035, and then reaching zero emissions in 2040.
“Achieving zero-emission mobility will require overcoming obstacles: increasing charging infrastructure, developing battery production, improving current technologies in a cost-effective way, introducing incentives for consumers…”, explains Rome, who wishes to obtain a longer adaptation time for the automotive industry and its many subcontractors. The automobile represents an important industry for Italy as for the other signatories, in particular Slovakia and Romania which have many factories.
Opposition from major European powers
Another hostile country alongside Spain or the Czech Republic, France initially wanted a postponement to 2040 of the ban on new thermal engines, and would like to exempt plug-in hybrids from this ban. From now on, Germany is approaching the camp of the ” Nope ». The flagship power of the automotive industry in Europe pleads for relaxations in the extension of the sale of cars with combustion engines running on e-fuels (made from carbon-free electricity). In remarks reported by the Financial Times on Wednesday, the German finance minister said that Berlin would reject this “bad decision”.
Conversely, other Europeans, often minor car producers, support the European Commission’s objective. Ireland and the Netherlands have banned thermal engines on their territories from 2030. Sweden is on the side of the Commission, despite the national pride that is Volvo.
The subject divides European countries as much as car manufacturers. Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares has long castigated Brussels’ 2035 calendar and its cost to car makers and consumers. His Volkswagen counterpart Ralf Brandstätter welcomes this ambition and considers the conversion of his sector to electric “irreversible”.