An agreement has been reached between Germany and the European Union that mandates all new cars to be carbon-neutral by 2035, avoiding a dispute that could have undermined the bloc’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Although the agreement allows for some combustion engines beyond 2035, it has been criticized by opponents. The deal grants Germany permission to approve the requirement for new cars to be zero-emissions, which is a vital aspect of the EU’s plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. However, objections from Wissing’s pro-business FDP party delayed a vote that was scheduled this month.
The deal with Germany does not modify the regulation text that was agreed upon between member states and the European Parliament last year, and after ministers sign off on it, the commission will provide more details on the next steps to implement the e-fuels provision.
The scheduled review in 2026 of the bloc’s progress on zero-emission vehicles was deemed too late by some of the country’s automakers. Environmental activists criticized Germany’s decision to delay the emissions plan and warned against changes that could distract from the use of electric and other zero-emission vehicles.
Germany and the European Union have reached an agreement on a landmark regulation that requires new cars to be carbon neutral by 2035, thus resolving a dispute that threatened to undermine the bloc’s ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While opponents have condemned the agreement, the deal allows some combustion engines beyond 2035. The bloc and Germany had been at odds over the planned 2035 phase-out of CO2-emitting cars, but recent signals from leaders indicated that they were close to a resolution.
Germany had wanted assurances that new combustion engine cars could be sold beyond the deadline if they run on e-fuels. Porsche and other parts of Germany’s powerful car industry supported this request. Frans Timmermans, head of EU climate policy, said on Twitter, “We have found an agreement with Germany on the future use of e-fuels in cars.” German Transport Minister Volker Wissing said, “the way is clear” with the agreement reached late Friday. “Vehicles with internal combustion engines can still be newly registered after 2035 if they fill up exclusively with CO2-neutral fuels,” he said in a post on Twitter.
The agreement means that Germany can officially approve an agreement reached in October that requires new cars to be zero-emissions, a crucial pillar in the EU’s plans to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The vote on this agreement was delayed earlier this month due to objections from Wissing’s pro-business FDP party, the junior member of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing alliance. However, with the deal now in place, the vote is expected to pass with Germany’s backing.
The deal with Germany does not alter the text of the regulation agreed between representatives of member states and the European Parliament last year. After ministers approve it, the commission will provide more information on the next steps to implement the e-fuels provision, according to an EU official. Energy ministers will meet in Brussels on Tuesday to vote on the regulation, which should pass with Germany’s support as the opposing countries will not have sufficient numbers to block the progress. Italy wants further assurances, including how cars using biofuels can be exempted.
While the scheduled review in 2026 on how the bloc was progressing on zero-emission vehicles was considered too late for some of the country’s automakers, environmental activists criticized Germany’s decision to hold up the emissions plan and warned against changes that could distract from progress toward broader use of electric and other zero-emission vehicles.
Despite opposition, the automotive industry has fully embraced electric cars, rendering the previous debate on the matter absurd and damaging Germany’s credibility. Now it’s time to focus on efficient electromobility, according to Michael Bloss, a German Green member of the European Parliament.