Friday

22nd Jan 2021

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.

EU leaders to discuss vaccine certificates

While some member states hope vaccine certificates could revive tourism, EU officials point out that it is not clear if vaccinated people can still carry the virus and infect others.

Dutch government resigns two months before election

The four parties of the Dutch government, lead by prime minister Mark Rutte, have decided to let the government fall. On 17 March, two months from now, there are parliamentary elections in the Netherlands.

Italy government totters ahead of €200bn EU covid relief

Just in time to be all over the Italian evening news on Wednesday night, Matteo Renzi withdrew the two ministers of his small party, Italia Viva - making official the political crisis of the Giuseppe Conte government.

News in Brief

  1. Netherlands imposes curfew to halt new corona variant
  2. Green NGO fails to stop Europe's biggest gas burner
  3. Swedish minister reminds Europe of Russia's war
  4. Spain: Jesuit order apologises for decades of sexual abuse
  5. NGOs urge Borrell to address Egypt rights 'crisis'
  6. EU conflict-area education aid favours boys
  7. EU told to avoid hydrogen in building renovations
  8. Hungary gives initial ok for UK and Russian vaccines

EU pushes back against rising homophobia

The EU Commission plans a proposal to ensure recognition children-parent relations in cross border situations, and legislation to support the mutual recognition of parenthood between member states.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk
  2. EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up
  3. Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors
  4. MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute
  5. EU warns UK to be 'very careful' in diplomatic status row
  6. A digital euro - could it happen?
  7. US returns to climate deal and WHO, as EU 'rejoices'
  8. Big tech: From Trump's best friend to censorship machine?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us