Germany intervened to postpone automobile emissions reductions

Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to a quarter by 2020 was not brought to a final vote

Exhaust from a Porsche sports car in traffic. Germany has blocked a deal on tougher carbon emission. REUTERS/Alexandra Beier/Files

Exhaust from a Porsche sports car in traffic. Germany has blocked a deal on tougher carbon emission. REUTERS/Alexandra Beier/Files

Sat, Jun 29, 2013, 01:15




Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed yesterday that Germany had intervened to postpone agreement on binding emission reductions for new cars at the end of Ireland’s EU presidency.

The plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to a quarter by 2020 was not brought to a final vote yesterday after Germany and other countries indicated they would not support it. Consumer and environment groups have criticised the delay as the result of intensive lobbying from Germany’s car industry – something the German leader indirectly conceded yesterday. “In an era when we sit for days and talk about jobs, we have to take care not to weaken one’s own industrial base,” she said at a press conference after the summit.

Current EU rules require car companies to cut emissions to 130 g/km on average in 2015 and sets a non-binding goal of 95 grams for 2020.

Germany’s car lobby welcomed the delay. “With such an important policy decision, it’s important that prudence trumps speed,” said the VDA lobby group. “Therefore, it’s correct that sufficient time to review compromise suggestions are allowed.”

As the euro crisis recedes, EU leaders postponed until October discussion on which economic areas they want to target with funding to boost competitiveness and growth.

Asked about slow progress on this plan, proposed by France and Germany, Dr Merkel blamed ongoing dissent among EU leaders on how to proceed. “We all talk of growth, no one is against growth,” she said. “But we can only talk together about what we should do when we have a common understanding of what is important.”

Behind the scenes of the two-day meeting in Brussels, tensions over the handling of the euro crisis continued to simmer between members of the French government and the European Commission. French foreign trade minister Nicole Bricq became the latest French minister to criticise European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, claiming he had “done nothing” during his time in Brussels.

Mr Barroso said he would not be drawn into commenting on attacks on his record and was focusing on his job.


Challenging legitimacy
French president François Hollande moved to calm the waters, insisting he respected the EU institutions. “We have to work with the commission without challenging its legitimacy,” he said.

Asked whether he agreed with German insistence on treaty change before a single authority for banking resolution, Mr Hollande said the treaty would only be amended for “legal reasons and not for political reasons”. “We have always said that, within the existing treaties, we will go as far as possible with the banking union,” he said.

“If it is necessary to amend the treaty, it could only be for legal reasons and not for political reasons. Before that I believe we have to work within the existing treaties, and nothing should stop us at this stage from moving forward as fast as we can.”

German officials have warned that current EU treaties provide no legal basis for an EU-based bank oversight.