Germany gets its way on EU car emissions
EU environment ministers on Monday (14 October) caved in to German pressure and agreed to reopen a deal that had been reached in June on a cap for CO2 emissions for new cars.
The deal would have limited all new cars' carbon emissions to 95 grams per kilometre from 2020 on.
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But Germany, home of big carmakers Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen, argued that the cap is not "flexible" enough and could endanger its industry and jobs.
"It is not a fight over principles but on how we bind the necessary clarity in climate protection with the required flexibility and competitiveness to protect the car industry in Europe," German environment minister Peter Altmaier said at the meeting in Luxembourg.
"I am convinced we can find such a solution. We can find it in the next weeks," he added.
EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard however did not hide her disappointment.
"It is not a terrific thing that we could not conclude on cars," she said, adding that Germany's demand to delay implementation four more years to 2024 was not acceptable.
Several countries including the UK and Poland supported the German stance, while others - Belgium, France and Italy - backed the original deal.
The Lithuanian EU presidency will now start talks with the European Parliament, seeking a new agreement that accommodates Germany's demands.
“The flexibility margin has to be narrow,” Lithuanian environment minister Valentinas Mazuronis said.
Environment campaigners criticised the fact that Germany got its way.
“The European Parliament should stand firm and reject Germany’s demands, which only serve to damage the climate, increase costs for consumers and stifle technological innovation," Greenpeace EU transport policy director Franziska Achterberg said.
"It should insist that emission reductions by 2025 be included in the legislation,” she added.