breaking latest news – Tomorrow the EU energy ministers will give the definitive go-ahead to stop the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines from 2035. E-fuels, synthetic fuels, will be exempt, as requested by Germany which has managed to force the European Commission to a compromise, otherwise the whole package will be rejected. Italy, on the other hand, has not obtained the interpretation it would have liked to give to the agreement as well: the exemption for neutral fuels decreed by Recital 11 of the Regulation must also include biofuels.
In Brussels they don’t think so and the ambassadors, who today gave the go-ahead for tomorrow’s vote, did not listen to Italy’s request to take time to better study the agreement and postpone the vote. Italy – diplomatic sources say – believes that on a procedural level, the development of the negotiations that took place over the weekend and the resulting declaration have substantial implications on the interpretation and implementation of the Regulation. On a substantive level, he argues that a restrictive interpretation of neutral fuels in terms of CO2 – that is, which includes e-fuels but excludes other renewable fuels such as biofuels – “is not acceptable as it is not in line with the principle of technological neutrality”.
The regulation, a pillar of the European Commission’s Fit for 55 plan, was presented by the European executive on 14 July 2021. The legislative process had almost reached its conclusion, with a troubled passage in Parliament in which it was possible to wrest, between the ‘other, a derogation for the Italian Motor Valley. On February 14, the European Parliament gave its definitive go-ahead and on March 7 the final ok from the Council was due to arrive, usually a merely formal step. Except that on 28 February Italy announced its vote against (in the first vote it was positive, but it was another government).
Germany joined Italy and made its “perplexities” known. For the approval of the Regulation, a qualified majority is needed: 55% of the States representing at least 65% of the population. With the opposition of Poland and the abstention of Bulgaria, already known, the retreat of Germany and Italy formed the so-called blocking minority. Berlin therefore took advantage of the leverage to start negotiations with the European Commission and obtain the exemption for e-fuels.
Unease not only among the other Member States – generally when an agreement is reached, no change is made before the final vote – and the European Parliament which did not want the approved Regulation to be touched. To please everyone, the European Commission, without affecting the Regulations already approved by Parliament, has promised an attached declaration for a clear recognition of synthetic fuels. And a legislative proposal – with a delegated act – which will arrive in the autumn of 2024.
Italy, for its part, insists that if e-fuels are recognised, biofuels cannot be excluded. Interpretation not shared by the European executive which believes that biofuels are in any case more polluting than synthetic ones. This has probably hindered the start of negotiations like the one with Berlin. For the approval of the new regulation, the go-ahead from one of the two was enough.
Go to the article