EU delays vote on combustion engine phase-out after German pushback

BRUSSELS – European Union countries have delayed a planned vote next week on the bloc’s landmark law to end sales of new CO2-emitting cars in 2035, after Germany called into question its support for the rules.

No new date for the vote was given.

A spokesman for Sweden, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said EU countries’ ambassadors would return to the topic “in due time”.

After months of negotiations, the European Parliament, the Commission and EU member states agreed last year to the law.

It would require all new cars sold in the EU from 2035 to have zero CO2 emissions – effectively making it impossible to sell combustion engine cars from that date.

But EU countries still need to rubber-stamp the decision before it can take effect.

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing this week said the use of synthetic fuels should remain possible after the 2035 deadline, and urged the European Commission to deliver a proposal to make this happen.

That has put the law on ice days before it was due to receive the final approval.

EU countries’ ambassadors on Friday cancelled the vote, which had been planned for March 7, the spokesman for Sweden said.

An attempt to block or change an EU policy this late in the lawmaking process is unusual.

Mr Wissing’s Free Democratic Party has long advocated for climate-neutral synthetic fuels, also known as e-fuels, arguing that their use would enable the continued use of combustion engines.

But the country’s environment ministry, led by the Greens, has said Germany should stick to the deal and not back away at the last minute.

If Germany’s coalition government cannot agree a position it would have to abstain.

This, along with some resistance from Italy and some eastern European countries, could throw the whole EU ban into question.

EU lawmakers already gave the deal their final approval last month. REUTERS


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