Berlin secures exemption for e-fuel vehicles

The German Ministry of Transport has secured an exemption from the EU Commission allowing cars with combustion engines to be registered after 2035, provided they are powered by climate-neutral e-fuels. Both the German government’s tactics and the content of the exemption meet with criticism in the press.

Kurier (AT) /

A deceptive compromise

Kurier still sees many open questions regarding e-fuels:

“The compromise announced on Saturday with a new category of cars to be developed that will only run on e-fuels is deceptive. Firstly, it is by no means clear that any car companies beyond Porsche and Ferrari will produce such cars. Secondly, although there will be a massive boost in e-fuel production in the coming years, the shipping industry, airlines and the chemical industry will need all this extra fuel. And thirdly, heaven only knows what these e-fuels will cost.”

Bernhard Gaul (DE) /

A bad example

The damage Germany has done on the European stage will have consequences, fears:

“Germany comes across as a country that cannot be relied on. ... At the summit in Brussels it was noticeable that one head of government did not say anything this time. One who usually never misses an opportunity to be awkward, the Hungarian head of government Victor Orbán, simply had to listen. And he got the message: yesterday’s decisions can be questioned today if it makes governing easier at home. Germany has done this, after all. Of all the combustion engine problems, the copycat effect is the most dangerous.”

Helga Schmidt
Le Quotidien (LU) /

Pileup in Brussels

Germany’s about-face will have major consequences for the economy and the climate, Le Quotidien points out:

“The cacophony becomes even louder when you consider that a majority of German carmakers don’t seem to be factoring synthetic fuels into their planning. ... Nonetheless, carmakers need some degree of certainty now in order to make plans for the long term. The pileup Germany has caused could do considerable damage to the economy, but above all to the climate. Some already fear that the veto against the moratorium on combustion engines could lead to further blockades of the energy turnaround we so urgently need.”

David Marques
Les Echos (FR) /

A stab in the back for the legislative process

The business paper Les Echos looks to Germany, torn between indignation and envy:

“Berlin’s demand has already been rejected twice by the EU Parliament and once by the member states. By torpedoing the legislative process in this way, Germany runs the risk of disinhibiting other countries regarding the defence of their individual interests and blocking the European machinery even more. One might resent this. But one might also believe that the showdown against Germany would be more balanced if France had preserved its financial power through better management of its budget. Berlin’s chances of saving its industry are good. Ours are not.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

New alliances

Lidové noviny is pleased that Eastern and Western European EU countries have come together to form a blockade against the phasing out of the internal combustion engine:

“The cliché has been established that on fundamental issues the EU is divided into West and East, or into progressive Europeans and dirty post-communists. Now, apparently for the first time in the EU, countries like the Czech Republic can also rely on Germany to form a blocking minority. The Germans have no illusions that their cars will run on petrol forever, as they did in the days of Carl Benz. But they don’t want to throw away the technology only to have to import electric cars from China. No matter how it all turns out — we are at a turning point.”

Zbyněk Petráček
La Vanguardia (ES) /

Let Germany’s back-paddling be a warning

La Vanguardia calls for maximum consensus on climate policy:

“Berlin’s last-minute change of position is amateurish and has caused unease in several countries. Such a last-minute withdrawal from a joint agreement sets a dangerous precedent for future EU negotiations. ... This should serve as a warning to lawmakers to weigh more carefully the impact of measures on business and employment. We must strive for maximum balance. ... That is a guarantee of success.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

No time to lose

France and Germany are standing in the way of the the green transition, the Salzburger Nachrichten criticises:

“President Emmanuel Macron is obsessively trying to impose his own decision in favour of nuclear power on the entire European Union. ... And Olaf Scholz is letting his coalition partner, the FDP, have its way, which in a panic after losing five regional elections in a row is suddenly questioning a key element of the European green transition: the phasing out of climate-damaging car engines from 2035. ... We are running out of time to set the course for a carbon-free and sustainable future. Neither nuclear power plants nor combustion engines are part of it.”

Martin Stricker