EU: Decision on vehicles with internal combustion engines unblocked

NEWS 27.03.202317:39

EU member states on Monday agreed to ban the sale of new vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035, after agreement was reached with Germany to exempt from the ban engines that will use synthetic, e-fuels.

The agreement was reached at the level of deputies to the permanent representatives of the member states (Coreper I) and on Tuesday it is expected to be confirmed by energy ministers at a regular meeting, the EU’s Swedish Presidency said.

Earlier this month, Germany blocked an already agreed law banning the sale of new vehicles with internal combustion engines after 2035.

The law had already been voted in by the European Parliament and required only a formal decision by the Council of the EU, however, Germany blocked it at the last moment.

The European Commission on Saturday reached agreement with Germany under which the existing text of the law banning vehicles with internal combustion engines will stay the same, with the EC committing itself to adopt a delegated regulation by autumn this year that would introduce a new category of vehicles in the EU for vehicles running only on carbon-neutral fuels.

Synthetic or e-fuels are made of pure hydrogen and carbon dioxide taken from the atmosphere. Those fuels can be used by current internal combustion engines. Their combustion releases carbon dioxide that has been taken from the atmosphere so it does not contribute to increasing carbon dioxide emissions and under the delegated regulation, this will be considered a carbon-neutral fuel.

The technology of producing e-fuels is still in its beginnings and far from commercialisation. Their production requires huge amounts of electricity from renewable sources to obtain pure hydrogen through electrolysis.

Germany managed to win over for its position several other countries like Italy, Poland and Bulgaria, which enabled it to block the Council’s decision.

Many warn about possible misuse because conventional fuels will continue to be sold at petrol stations even after 2035 as vehicles produced before that year will still be in use.