The Lithuanian government, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers, plans in the coming days to put forward a compromise text to MEPs that would delay a new fleet average limit of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre from 2020 to 2022, according to European Council sources.
A 2020 deadline had been agreed by Council voting early this year, and a deal was reached with MEPs in June on this basis. However, following the deal, Germany pressured other member states to switch position and refuse to ratify the agreement.
Earlier this month environment ministers formally asked the Lithuanian presidency to work out a compromise with MEPs that remains close enough to the June deal to avoid having to restart negotiations.
A two-year phase-in, which would see only some cars be subject to the limit in 2020 and 2021, would be less than the four year phase-in Germany has asked for. The Lithuanian compromise proposal would also expand the ‘supercredit’ scheme, which makes the target easier to reach by making electric vehicles count more toward the fleet average. Under the compromise, the period of supercredits would be extended from three years to four years and companies could ‘bank’ supercredits for use in later years.
The issue will be discussed tomorrow (30 October) in a meeting of member state representatives. However most member states have yet to see an actual text, and it is unclear whether one will be circulated tomorrow. Italy, Denmark, France and Spain have requested the item be put on the agenda after there was concern that some countries are being kept out of the loop.
The presidency has not called a formal vote on the issue and therefore is unable to present anything to MEPs that looks like a mandate. The compromise idea has been communicated through bilateral discussions between the presidency and member states, and could change before it is put to a circulated text.
Some delegations are concerned that they will not receive a text with the specifics of a proposal until Monday, which would not leave enough time to voice an opinion before Tuesday’s trilogue meeting with the European Commission and MEPs.
Green transport campaign group T&E says that the compromise being floated by the Lithuanian government would raise the 2020 target by 10% and halve the required rate of improvement over the period 2015-24. Because the companies would not need the supercredits accumulated in 2020 and 2021 and would instead use them in 2022 and 2023, T&E says this would mean an effective delay of the 95g/km limit to 2024.
They estimate this delay would cost the average new car driver an additional €138 per year in fuel. “The Lithuanian presidency is playing a dangerous game of poker,” said William Todts, a campaigner with T&E. “The four-year delay they propose contradicts the small changes environment ministers requested. Unless the Lithuanians come to their senses and stop trying to please Germany, we’re headed for a breakdown in negotiations and another year of delay.”
Germany has been fighting the emissions cap, which would be reduced from the 130g/km set for 2015, since before the Commission’s proposal came out in 2012. The German auto industry specialises in larger, heavier cars that produce more emissions, and would benefit the most from a supercredit scheme. French and Italian automakers, which specialise in lighter, smaller cars, say an expansion of supercredits would put them at a competitive disadvantage with their German counterparts.
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