The EU Commission is calling for a switch to electric drives. But industry representatives and some EU parliamentarians fear nasty consequences.
The future of road traffic in Europe, the protection of the climate and half a million jobs are at stake: the EU wants to tighten the limits on how many greenhouse gases new cars are allowed to emit, and the decisive phase is now beginning in this explosive project. On Wednesday, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted on its position on the Commission’s draft legislation; negotiations on the legal act between the Parliament and the Council of Ministers, the legislative chamber of the member states, could begin this summer.
The Commission’s draft regulation effectively mandates the end of the internal combustion engine in 2035. For the sake of the climate, manufacturers are to bring only electric vehicles onto the market.
Europe’s industry association Clepa estimates that this will cost half a million jobs in the EU, especially among suppliers. At the same time, 230,000 new jobs would be created in the production of electric drives and batteries, which together would still mean a loss of 275,000 jobs by 2040, as the lobbyists calculate.
The Christian Democrats and conservatives in the European Parliament therefore want to tone down the proposal a little and forego a complete ban on internal combustion vehicles. This should make the switch easier for companies and employees; moreover, it would be risky to rely on electric drives alone, says Jens Gieseke, the CDU/CSU’s transport policy spokesman in the European Parliament: „We don’t even know today whether we can sustainably meet the electricity demand required for this and provide the charging infrastructure by 2035.“
But the Environment Committee rejected such amendments by a narrow majority on Wednesday. A similarly narrow majority rejected moves by the Liberals, Greens and Social Democrats to tighten up the commission’s draft even further. In the end, a majority of 46 to 40 voted in favor of a position that does not differ greatly from the original Commission proposal.
The German government supports the hard line
Responsible for the negotiations among MEPs was Dutch Liberal Jan Huitema. The EU parliamentarian said after the votes that the law creates clarity for the car industry and promotes innovation and investment. Buying and driving climate-friendly cars will „become cheaper for consumers: This is especially important now that diesel and gasoline prices continue to rise.“
So cars won’t be allowed to blow out any CO₂ at all in 13 years – de facto the end of the internal combustion engine. This is intended to help achieve the ambitious climate protection targets.
In June, the plenum in Strasbourg will take a final vote on the MEPs‘ position. The Council of Ministers could also agree on its negotiating position as early as June. The search for a compromise between this body of 27 member states and the European Parliament will then begin. The Council of Ministers will presumably want to retain the Commission’s planned phase-out of internal combustion vehicles by 2035. And the Christian Democrat does not need to hope for backing from the German government: The red-green-yellow coalition agreement supports the Brussels targets. What is meant is that the German government supports the goals of the European Commission.
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