The compromise reached between EU institutions on the phase-out of internal combustion engines for new cars and vans by 2035 should be changed, said Thomas Schmidt, Minister in the German region of Saxony and head of the Automotive Regions Alliance.
The European Parliament and Council deal reached in November that de facto bans the sale of new combustion engine cars and vans as of 2035 is now on the brink, as Germany recently announced it would only agree to it if the Commission comes out with a binding commitment to allow internal combustion engines running only on climate-neutral fuels even after 2035.
“I find it positive that this is all being discussed once more,” Schmidt (CDU/EPP) told EURACTIV, “because we need, if we want to be faster with the climate transition, in reducing CO2 emissions, an openness in technology”.
While German Chancellor Scholz said the current dispute between Berlin and Brussels was not about changing the agreement, Schmidt said he hopes for the exception for combustion engine vehicles running on e-fuels made legally binding, which would require the law to be renegotiated.
“I am in no way an opponent of electric mobility,” the minister said, highlighting that his region, Saxony, is “the German region for electric mobility”, with plants for electric vehicles by BMW, VW and soon Porsche, and a battery plant by a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz.
“So we are already very far ahead of the game, and we are also trying to accompany this whole transformation,” he said, but “if the state intervenes too much, as we are now experiencing again and again, then it will not work.”
As the manufacturing of electric vehicles comes with fewer jobs for the automotive sector, particularly for suppliers and in car service, Saxony and 29 other regions have formed an alliance of automotive regions within the EU’s committee of the regions.
The alliance will formulate common positions on EU policies and exchange experiences on diversifying their regional economies, including attracting companies which could benefit from the automotive sector’s skills, such as the manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels.
Schmidt is thus in favour of the Commission’s aim to increase the production capacity of such green technologies in Europe.
“This focus on one’s own region is taking place all over the world, in America as well as in Asia,” he said, “and that’s why we Europeans have to face up to it, without saying that I don’t want any more world trade”.
(Jonathan Packroff | EURACTIV.de)