The European Union delayed a key vote on an effective ban on combustion-engine cars after Germany unexpectedly voiced last-minute objections amid concerns about how the bloc’s green plans will affect industry.
EU and German officials are in talks over how to reach a compromise over allowing the use of e-fuels in new cars after 2035, and there were signs from Berlin that a deal can still be reached that would allow the phase-out to go ahead.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is set to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the sidelines of a German cabinet meeting on Sunday, when the topic will likely be discussed.
“It is contradictory when the EU Commission calls for high climate protection targets on the one hand, but on the other hand makes it more difficult to achieve these targets through overambitious regulation,” German Transport Minister Volker Wissing told lawmakers Friday in the lower house of parliament in Berlin, adding that it’s up to the EU’s executive arm to come up with a viable solution.
EU ministers were scheduled to vote Tuesday in what was supposed to be a routine approval of a deal the bloc clinched last year to effectively ban new vehicles that run on fossil fuels beginning in 2035.
But Daniel Holmberg, a spokesman for Sweden, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, confirmed the vote delay on Twitter and said diplomats will return to the issue “in due time.”
The delay reflects concern that Germany would have abstained — a move that could derail the bloc’s green plans, according to people familiar with the matter.
Some German officials have signaled that they think a deal is achievable that will preserve the broader ban.
“If the commission has a credible stance in conversations with the ministers and the German government, I’m optimistic that a solution will be found,” Sven Giegold, state secretary at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, said Thursday, adding that the negotiations are difficult.