7th Jun 2023

Merkel and Sarkozy claim unity on car emissions

  • Mr Sarkozy (l) and Ms Merkel do not always see eye-to-eye (Photo: Consilium)

French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel have said they have achieved "an important breakthrough" on controversial EU plans to reduce car emissions.

After holding talks in the German town of Straubing on Monday (9 June), the two leaders threw their weight behind a European Commission proposal to limit average CO2 emissions of new cars to 120 grammes/km from 2012.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We have made an important breakthrough on this subject where initially our positions were very, very far apart," Ms Merkel said, according to media reports, adding she was "very happy to be able to say that we both support the EU goal."

However, while backing the mandatory target as such, the two countries have also called for a "substantial" period to introduce such caps and for a softer line on penalties imposed if industry fails to deliver.

Under the EU's executive body proposal, new passenger cars entering the market in 2012 should have a mandatory carbon dioxide (CO2) emission cap of 120 grammes/km. If the binding target is missed, manufacturers will be fined €20 per gramme over the limit in 2012, rising to €35 in 2013, €60 in 2014, and €95 in 2015.

France and Germany have previously clashed over the issue due to different market positions. While Germany is the chief producer of large, heavy vehicles such as BMW, Daimler and Porsche, French carmakers produce lighter, more energy-efficient automobiles, such as Peugeot and Renault.

"The details will still have to be worked out by our environment ministers, but we believe that this is giant step forward," Ms Merkel said about the compromise deal.

Paris is set to deal with the hot potato during the second half of this year, as the country assumes the EU presidency chair in July.

Oil prices caps

French president Nicolas Sarkozy also used the bilateral meeting with his German counterpart to push his proposal to introduce Europe-wide fuel tax cuts in the face of ongoing protests by truckers at the soaring cost of petrol.

"I have explained my position on oil taxes. The governments of all countries should think about it," Mr Sarkozy said, urging EU leaders to "find a common position when the time comes."

The idea has met with grumbling hostility around EU capitals from the start, with Ms Merkel saying on Monday "We have not taken a decision."

The European Commission, for its part, has previously warned that any subsidies or tax cuts would only play into hands of oil-exporting countries.


Part of EU middle class 'being squeezed out', MEP warns

EUobserver interviewed Spanish MEP Jordi Cañas to discuss the situation of Europe's middle class, the dangerous political reaction if certain groups feel neglected, and the role that member states and the EU can play at the policy level.

MEPs to urge block on Hungary taking EU presidency in 2024

"This will be the first time a member state that is under the Article 7 procedure will take over the rotating presidency of the council," French Green MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, the key lawmaker on Hungary, warned.

European Parliament scales back luxury MEP pension fund

The European Parliament's Bureau, a political body composed of the president and its vice-presidents, decided to slash payouts from the fund by 50 percent, freeze automatic indexations, and increase the pension age from 65 to 67.


Right of Reply from the Hungarian government

Authors Samira Rafaela MEP and Tom Theuns present as facts the extreme views of a politically-motivated campaign in the European Parliament. By doing so, they undermine the very foundations of the European Union.

Latest News

  1. EU Commission wants better focus on mental health care
  2. Right of Reply from the Hungarian government
  3. True scale of horror in today's Belarus hard to comprehend
  4. Israeli settlers encircling Jerusalem, EU envoys warn
  5. No clear 'Qatargate effect' — but only half voters aware of EU election
  6. Part of EU middle class 'being squeezed out', MEP warns
  7. Migration commissioner: Greek pushback film 'clear deportation'
  8. In 2024, Europe's voters need to pick a better crop of MEPs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us