BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- Senior members of the German government have warned EU member states that Germany's automakers could scale back or scrap production plans in their countries unless they support weakened carbon emissions rules, according to diplomatic sources.
With EU governments and lawmakers aiming to finalize the rules next week, which most of the 27 member states back, Germany has stepped up the pressure on them to water down limits on vehicle emissions to protect the country's car industry, particularly luxury makers such as BMW and Daimler.
The sources added that some calls warning EU member states of possible consequences have come from members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's office. Her office declined to comment.
One EU diplomat said Berlin had reminded Lisbon of Portugal's 78 billion euro ($100 billion) euro zone bailout, which was heavily financed by Germany, in its bid to convince the country to drop its opposition to softer limits.
"They have tried everything at the highest level to pressure member states, in particular countries in the bailout club, to support their proposals," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Germany seems hell-bent on pressing its interests. Even countries that are generally pro-German feel that they are going too far."
A German government source denied that Berlin had put particular pressure on countries that have received EU financial aid, and said its aim was to protect jobs in the EU auto sector.
"Our strategy is to focus on France, Britain and Italy as the big car producing countries, and on the countries which have important supply industries," the source said. "They should all be together in this fight. We should not drive jobs out of Europe at a moment of high unemployment."