EU leaders are meeting in Brussels for the European Council Summit where a row between Germany and France on the EU's plan to ban combustion engined cars is dividing the bloc. Germany's transportation minister said earlier this week that his country would not back a proposed EU ban on the sale of new cars with combustion engines from 2035. He said he wanted assurances from the bloc's executive arm that there would be an exemption for synthetic fuels.

Germany's veto against the proposal left officials in Brussels furious and the bloc split in two. On one side, Germany was back by the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria and Italy, and on the other, French President Emmanuel Macron said France was ready to defend the EU's plan at this week's summit.

Arriving in the Belgian capital for the Council meeting, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said: "There are some technologies in which Italy and Europe have the upper edge.

"Tying ourselves to technologies where foreign countries have the upper edge does not favor the competitiveness of our system."

She added: "Our view is that we share we aims of the [green] transition, but we don't think the EU should decide which technologies to use to reach those objective."

But siding with France on the matter, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjnis Kariš scolded German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

He told reporters in Brussels that Berlin's decision to block the plans was "puzzling" and a "difficult sign for the future".

He added: "If one member state can do it, what will stop the next? This is not a direction we need to go in. The entire architecture of decision-making would fall apart if we all did that."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he still hoped the row could reach a solution in the next 48 hours, as his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo echoed: "We can't start doubting ourselves now."

Earlier this month, one angry Brussels official said: "This block is not at the 11th-hour or even at the 12th-hour. We had a deal, the law was agreed and voted in the European Parliament.

"If you can't rely on political agreements anymore, it gets really dangerous. I'm not exaggerating - you can imagine what other countries will do after this precedent."

The conservative European People's Party group, which is the largest bloc in the European Parliament, is also opposing the ban and called on member countries to do the same.

"The ban will prevent innovation and cost thousands of jobs and will lead to the decline of a core European industry," said Jens Gieseke, the EPP Group lead negotiator on the planned regulation.

The plan, which is part of the bloc's effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, effectively means that the sale of new cars that burn hydrocarbon-based fuels such as petroleum would be banned.

Opposing countries had asked the EU's executive commission to come up with an exemption for cars that burn so-called e-fuels.

They argued that such fuels can be produced using renewable energy and carbon captured from the air so they wouldn't spew further climate-changing emissions into the atmosphere.

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing said the European Commission had not made a proposal for the requested exemption so Germany would refrain from supporting the ban.

Gieseke said the legislation should be complemented with a crediting scheme for synthetic fuels.

2023-03-23T14:56:01Z dg43tfdfdgfd