Now it’s official: Europe will stop selling petrol and diesel cars from 2035. The final act was the vote of EU energy ministers. However, it is not a “bet everything” on the electric car as initially proposed by the European Commission, since the block of 27 has given the green light also for the sale of combustion engines powered by e-fuels. No space however for biofuels, on which Italy pushed, and will continue to push.
The Vice-President of the European Commission says he is satisfied Frans Timmermans which speaks of “a fundamental step towards climate neutrality by 2050 and a fundamental part of the Green Deal”. Actually for Timmermans, champion of green dogmatic thinking in Brussels, today’s is half a win given the turnaround made at the last moment, in the face of Germany’s threat to blow up the entire green package if e-fuels were not included.
Ed a half victory is also for Italy, managed to make a blocking minority with Berlin against “electric only”, but then betrayed on the wire in the request to include biofuels in the green package. So the minister Pichetto Fratin, who abstained at the time of the last vote, prefers to see the glass half full instead of making controversy. “We are producers of biofuels and we have obtained the fact that a discussion can be opened before the EU mid-term review of 2026 to prove that biofuels – explains the minister who adds: “We believe that the technological neutrality of biofuels can be proven and I believe that already in the coming months we will have to evaluate it with scientific evidence”.
And Minister Urso also makes an appointment for 2026: “Only thanks to Italy has it been possible to reopen a non-ideological dialogue on technological neutrality in the EU. And today’s decision brings with it a certainty: the internal combustion engine will survive, alongside electricity, even after 2035, an important element for planning business investments”. “The endothermic is the driving force of the entire Italian automotive supply chain – adds Urso – the backbone of our industry which makes us leaders in the sector. It is a technology that can use different types of fuels, including biofuels”.
The ban on the sale of cars with traditional fuels is part of the climate reform package Fit for 55which foresees the reduction of CO2 emissions in Europe by 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels).
The car dossier establishes two major steps for 2030 and 2035, which add up to the one already set for 2025. In essence, the 15% cut in emissions in 2025 compared to 2021 levels; cutting emissions by 55% in 2030 (50% for vans, again compared to 2021 levels); and finally the 100% cut in emissions in 2035.
The ban on diesel and petrol and the green light on batteries and e-fuel will result in the fact that all cars and vans registered from 2035 will have to be zero-emissions. However, there are no restrictions for internal combustion cars already on the road: old diesel and petrol cars will therefore be able to travel on European roads even after 2035 until the vehicle itself is scrapped.
First agreement on charging stations
First agreement also reached on charging stations for electric cars. THE refueling points will have to be installed every 60 kilometers by 2026 on the main roads listed in the priority European transport networks. For heavy vehicles and buses, charging stations will have to be every 120 kilometers by 2028. Hydrogen distribution systems, on the other hand, will have to be installed every 200 kilometers by 2031. The agreement provides that individual countries present national plans for achieving the indicated objectives but also the possibility of exceptions for the most disadvantaged territories, islands and roads with little traffic.
“The new rules – commented the German speaker Ismail Ertug – will contribute to the creation of new infrastructures for alternative fuels without further delays and will ensure that the use and refueling of new generation cars is just as simple and convenient as for petrol vehicles”. The agreement, before becoming definitive, however has a long way to go: in fact, it will have to be approved by the ambassadors of the 27 and by the Council, as well as by the transport commission and the plenary of the European Parliament.