25th Feb 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

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.


Almost 20 names in running for EU top jobs

With four months until the European Parliament elections, there are already some 20 names in the hat for the ensuing reshuffle of EU top jobs.


New government in Belfast is much ado about not much

The deal to restore Northern Ireland's government — after nearly two years — is being spun as a major triumph. But not much has changed. This is an exercise in fine-tuning and political window-dressing.

Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns

Germany is expanding agreements to return rejected asylum seekers to their countries of origin as part of a wider shift in Europe to curtail migration. Berlin has reached deals with Georgia and Morocco since December.

Latest News

  1. EU rewards Tusk's Poland on rule of law with €137bn
  2. UK-EU relations defrosting ahead of near-certain Labour win
  3. EU paid Russia €420-per-capita for fossil fuels since war began
  4. After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports
  5. Creating the conditions for just peace in Ukraine
  6. Energy and minerals disputes overshadow new EU-ACP pact
  7. Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns
  8. How Amazon lobbyists could be banned from EU Parliament

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us