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The Lady’s Not For Greening

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The Lady’s Not For Greening

Geoff Maxted
DriveWrite
October 14, 2013


European Union
A few days ago DriveWrite reported that Germany’s Iron Lady, Angela Merkel, had effectively blocked new EU rules on capping car emissions. Today is the day that EU environment ministers gather together to debate the issue, presumably between the long lunch courses.

Clearly this defence by Chancellor Merkel was to protect jobs and the German prestige car makers at a time she was seeking re-election. Now she has got to back it up. So much for Euro-cooperation when it comes down to national interest.

The European Union reached a deal in June to limit CO²emissions from all new cars to 95 grams per kilometre from 2020. Germany has refused to accept it and has attempted to win the support of other member states to delay the measure.

Some European car manufacturers are happy with the new rules But it is clear that Germany's premium brands - Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen's Audi - which produce heavier and less fuel-efficient vehicles than those from mass-market manufacturers, would find it very difficult to meet the target.

EU environment ministers are getting together in Luxembourg today (never heard of video-conferencing then), but unsurprisingly are not expected to reach an agreement. There’s going to be a ‘summit’ of the heads of state later in October, this time in Brussels. Perhaps they can thrash it out.

Germany’s environment minister said, “It's not a fight over principles but how we bind the necessary clarity in climate protection with the required flexibility and competitiveness to protect the car industry in Europe.” Translated, this means ‘we’re all for climate protection but only on our terms.’

The problem is, the Germans appear to be swimming against the tide. Environmentalists and consumer groups representing motorists who want to pay less for fuel, say an overwhelming majority of member states had already backed the compromise, reached in June, on introducing more efficient, lower-emission cars.

Next year there are going to be European Parliamentary elections which means another rash of new EU commissioners so the whole business could end up being delayed for a couple of years until a compromise is reached.

Chancellor Merkel has another problem. To govern effectively she has to cosy up to the German Green Party for support. Needless to say, they want the new rules now. Like an athlete that has taken too much syrup of figs, this story is going to run and run.



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