Top Scholz ally slams German government over blockade on EU car engine law
Regional leader Stephan Weil says that ‘Germany’s reputation in Brussels has been damaged by this sudden maneuver.’
BERLIN — A regional German leader from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party harshly criticized the government Wednesday over its last-minute blockade of the EU’s plan to phase out the combustion engine.
Stephan Weil, the premier of the Lower Saxony state — home of iconic German carmaker Volkswagen — told daily newspaper Welt that Germany’s objection to final approval of the European Union’s legislation to ban the sale of new CO2-emitting cars and vans from 2035 was unnecessary and causing reputational damage.
"No one really has anything to gain" from the German blockade, Weil said, adding: “It’s safe to say that Germany’s reputation in Brussels has been damaged by this sudden maneuver.”
The liberal Free Democrats (FDP), one of Germany’s three coalition parties, have held up the EU law at the final stage — after Berlin had previously given its backing — by insisting that the European Commission must propose an exemption that would also allow the use of e-Fuels. The last-minute push is an effort to save the traditional car as it would allow sales of vehicles with internal combustion engine after 2035.
Weil, however, slammed Berlin’s move: “My impression is that there is no need whatsoever in the industry for such an exemption with regard to passenger cars," he said. He added that e-Fuels “have no chance on the market for the foreseeable future,” which is why "all automotive companies" were already steering investments toward electric vehicles.
Weil’s criticism is striking because Scholz — a fellow Social Democrat — on Monday threw his weight behind the FDP’s objections to the EU law.