There is a long history of bruising Brussels battles between left & right, or NGO’s & industry, over car emissions rules with millions of tonnes of emissions savings and billions of euros in investment at stake. The co-decision for the Commission’s proposal for
Early skirmishes in Parliament The Commission proposal, made in November 2018 was described by T&E as “an early Christmas present to the car industry”. But the rapporteur Miriam Dalli’s report in the lead ENVI Committee was as good for the environment as the Commission’s proposal had been for the car industry. MEP Dalli strengthened the 2030 target from 30 to 50%; reinserted a CO2 penalty for failing to meet the low and zero emissions vehicles target of 25% by 2025; and proposed to close test loopholes. Now other MEPs have had their say with amendments published today.
The Greens, unsurprisingly, proposed an even tougher reduction target, 70% from 2021–2030 that independent analysis shows is needed to remain on track for 2050 climate goals. They also called for a zero-emission
S&D members have broadly fallen into line with their Rapporteur calling for higher 2025 and 2030 targets, better tests and stricter sales goals for electric vehicles. Some Romanian members, influenced by Dacia, propose to delay the 2025 target by one year. Some Italian socialists want to give
The ALDE vote, always important to secure a red-green majority in ENVI is, as usual, split as illustrated by contrasting amendments tabled by the shadow rapporteurs and other members in all of the three committees involved. As expected German ALDE MEPs Meissner and Muller are car industry bankers proposing to delete the 2025 target, the car industry’s top objection. In contrast Nils Torvalds (ALDE ENVI Shadow) proposes to strengthen the 2025 goal to 25%. The principal opposition to the Rapporteur comes from Jens Gieseke (EPP ENVI shadow) who had previously indicated he would only propose “little tweaks” to the Commission’s proposal to ensure an agreement in this Parliamentary term. However, his amendments (supported by some EPP IT and PL MEPs) instead match the car industry demands deleting the 2025 target and lowering the 2030 goal to 25%. Like his German ALDE allies, he wants increased rewards for selling low emission vehicles. Gieseke’s stance can be viewed as tactical in opposition to the ambition of Dalli and the ENVI debate on her Report shows EPP is also divided. Group coordinator in ENVI Peter Liese, supported by a number of DE, NL and BE colleagues, wants the 2025 goal retained; and Karl-Heinz Florenz hinted at a compromise with S&D around a 40% 2030 reduction. Gieseke’s can be expected to moderate his position in future negotiations. John Procter, ECR ENVI shadow, has been largely missing from Brussels for months so the UK pigeon confirming he is in favour of electric cars and ambitious regulations clearly couldn’t find him! Procter deleted the target for 2025 and lowered that for 2030 to 20% for cars (15% for vans)!
Most MEP amendments focus on CO2 targets and incentives for low and zero emissions vehicles. A cross-group coalition also tabled revisions, like the Rapporteur, to close testing loopholes. Recent T&E analysis highlights this could half the stringency of the 2025 target through carmakers double testing cars and declaring high test values on the new WLTP test to inflate the 2021 baseline, whilst using distorted old NEDC tests to comply with 2020/1 goals. With Member States also raising concerns on test abuses the Commission will be under pressure to strengthen its inadequate proposal that focused only on reporting the results of fuel consumption meters. Other issues receiving a raft of amendments are whether to give additional allowances for low carbon fuels. The Commission proposal based on tailpipe emissions is supported by all the main stakeholders but a coalition of gas & oil companies, Audi (pushing synthetic fuels) and the biofuels lobby continue to push for double subsidy for the same effort through both vehicle regulation and the Renewable Energy Directive recast. Other topics likely to feature in future discussions are whether to persist with additional allowances for heavier cars. The ENVI vote is scheduled for the 10 September, with the Plenary a month later. Battle lines are now clearly drawn: the 2025 target seems assured but reaching a compromise amendment on 2030 may prove tricky. With ambivalent support from ALDE on incentives for electric vehicles and the Greens pushing for a mandate, skillful negotiation will be needed on how to reward, and whether to penalise companies failing to achieve a sales benchmark for low and zero emissions cars, especially how to count plug-in hybrid cars. Strong action to close loopholes in tests looks very likely given cross party support.
Phoney war in Council In Council, new Governments in Spain and Italy are likely to swing the balance of power towards the coalition of nine member states, led by France, favouring a 40% reduction; these countries are likely to be joined by other smaller nations without auto-industries during the forthcoming Environment Council. The opposition camp is currently led by a block of carmakers best friends (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania) with the latter holding the presidency if the trilogues extend into 2019.
German Ministries are still fighting amongst themselves but the new environment minister has clearly understood that Germany will struggle that to achieve its domestic 40–42% target for 2030 transport emissions reductions, and suggest a 50% reduction in 2030, 25% in 2025 and a binding 25% benchmark for low and zero emission vehicles in 2025 paired with a malus for carmaker underachieving their sales targets. This is a more ambitious goal than the Commission proposed, that she will need to defend to her economics and transport colleagues. There are also worries that European carmakers are investing preferentially in China rather than Europe, notably VW that recently committed 15 Euros. The closeness between German politics and carmakers has been disrupted by recent scandals. Germany needs to speed up its decision making. Its inability to form an opinion in time was the main reason for its late and highly contentious intervention to block a
The Council debate is likely to focus on the targets and with blocking minorities both in favour of and against higher 2030 reductions. It may be that Council is unable to make a decision and instead propose a range for 2030 with the review to agree the exact target in 2022 along with that for trucks. This would also enable the industry to evaluate the take-up of electric cars, and for more ambitious goals to be proposed if the market takes off and sufficient recharging points are put in place.
The risks of trench warfare
Historically Commission proposals were weakened rather than strengthened in co-decision, but recently decisions on the ETS, Effort Sharing, energy efficiency
Original publish by medium.com