BRUSSELS Synthetic fuels to save internal combustion engines are making inroads in Europe, but the European Commission’s openness to German requests is unconvincing in Italy, which is contesting a “disadvantageous” deal almost finalized between Brussels and Berlin. In fact, the draft compromise would not take into account the biofuels around which Rome had organized its last European push to try to review the push for “green” cars.
An issue also relaunched by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni upon arrival at the summit, speaking of “a thesis of common sense that we trust will pass. Without prejudice to the objectives of the transition, which we share, we do not believe that the EU should be concerned with establishing what technologies are necessary to achieve these objectives.”
Outside the formal agenda of the summit of twenty-seven leaders, the future of the car industry hangs over the other EU negotiations. And, between contacts on the sidelines and declarations of principle at the threshold of the European Council from several countries with a strong automotive industry – the Czech Republic and Slovakia at the top -, the dossier falls on the strategic discussions dedicated to the EU’s industrial policy and competition global with the US and China. The German government has yet to lift its veto of regulation that would ban petrol and diesel cars from 2035, in the name of zero-emissions progress for light vehicles, which ended in a dead end in beginning of the month after opposition had finally emerged not only from Germany, but also from Italy, Poland and Bulgaria (a quartet sufficient to reject the measure). Chancellor Olaf Scholz, upon entering the Europa building, was convinced that “we are on the right track” regarding the direct line with Brussels.
At the center are the promises of the highest management of the community executive, which would specify more what is contained in article 11 of the regulation, a formulation without legal value which, however, implies an opening to the use of e-fuels, fuels with zero emissions, created from renewable energies, which would guarantee a future for internal combustion engines alongside the electric revolution promoted by the EU.
Yesterday, EU Green Deal chief Frans Timmermans defined the perimeter of the ongoing negotiation and ruled out, however, any leap forward to “liberating everyone” from car CO2 emissions. The executive vice-president of the Commission, speaking on the sidelines of the Socialist Party, has clarified that the negotiations with Berlin “moved within the framework” of the agreement on the stoppage of gasoline and diesel, “which already foresees a step of the -fuel. All we’re doing is explaining its meaning.” In short, the text is closed: the clarifications requested by the Germans on the role of synthetic fuels – this is the Commission’s commitment – will be elaborated in a provision different from the one under discussion. A glass only half full, however, as seen from Rome.
In fact, the EU executive does not intend to “reopen the whole deal”, Timmermans pointed out, effectively closing the door on the Italian request, which was delivered to him last Tuesday in a letter signed by three government officials (Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and ministers). Gilberto Pichetto Fratin and Adolfo Urso). Italy, we read, will not accept “an unduly restrictive interpretation” of the e-fuel concept as to exclude even low-emission biofuels from the scope of “green” fuels. Without making progress on this front, even if the Germans break the deadlock of the file having obtained the guarantees on synthetic fuels, the Italian non-commitment is guaranteed.
Source : IL Messaggero