Senior members of the German government are leaning heavily on EU member states, warning “that German automakers could scale back or scrap production plans in their countries unless they support weakened carbon emissions rules,” Reuters writes. Cabinet members are said to focus their strong-arming on EU countries that recently have been bailed-out, mostly with German money. “They have tried everything at the highest level to pressure member states, in particular countries in the bailout club, to support their proposals,” a diplomat told Reuters. The EU Parliament is set to finalize rules that set a 95g CO2 / km limit by 2020.
The fight however seems not so much a quest for cleaner air than an underhanded fight for more breathing room for the auto industries of some member states.
Germany’s warnings that stricter limits could cost jobs go mostly unheeded. They resonate only with “a handful of central European countries with domestic auto production, but France, Britain and Italy are opposed,“ EU sources tell Reuters.
At first glance, one would think that the latter countries should have even more interest in keeping assembly lines humming than relatively well-off Germany. The truth is one level deeper. The 95g target hits first and foremost the makers of bigger bore nameplates, and those are predominately in Germany: Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche. Much to the chagrin of other countries and automakers, the Germans are not as much affected by the European malaise than other countries, but they would get disproportionally socked by the 95g rule. Makers of smaller displacement cars welcome anything to cut the haughty Germans down to size. “Making less-polluting cars is costly and restricts profit margins, which is why major German manufacturers want to delay the stricter rules,” says Reuters. And that’s why other countries can’t wait.
Their goal is to bleed off profits and resources from competiors, and possibly to put companies like Daimler in serious trouble. Ad if it’s under the green guise of a cleaner planet, even better. Who can say nein to that?