The EU states will not make a final decision next Tuesday, as originally planned, on the blanket ban on new cars with internal combustion engines from 2035. This was announced by a spokesman for the responsible Swedish EU Presidency on Friday in Brussels.

The postponement of the talks is very likely to gain more time for a compromise with the German government on synthetic fuels. In Brussels, there is reportedly concern that the plans agreed in the middle of last year for the de facto ban on new cars with combustion engines will fail at the last second due to Berlin's resistance – and thus a cornerstone of the EU's climate strategy.

Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said in Berlin that, according to his information, the vote had been cancelled, so the question of Germany's positioning did not arise. "If it had been asked, Germany would not have agreed today," Wissing said. Most recently, State Secretary Sven Giegold jumped to his side from the Green-led Federal Ministry of Economics.

Agreement in Brussels on combustion ban as early as October

The EU Parliament and the member states had already agreed in October to register only vehicles that do not emit carbon dioxide (CO2035) from 2. Next Tuesday, this should only be formally sealed.

Wissing said that the FDP had always had a "clear stance" and said that the EU Commission had to submit a proposal on how synthetic fuels (so-called e-fuels) could be used in combustion engines after 2035 to make them CO2-neutral. Now the EU Commission must act.

In Brussels, the postponement is seen as an opportunity to find a face-saving solution behind the scenes. For example, the EU Commission under its German President Ursula von der Leyen could give the FDP assurances on the use of e-fuels.

Italy, Poland and Bulgaria also do not want to agree to the combustion phase-out, which is part of the comprehensive EU climate protection package. Together with Germany, these countries would have a blocking minority.

The German government wants vehicles with combustion engines to remain registered after 2035. Germany wants to "remain open to technology," Transport Minister Volker Wissing declared this week, referring to hydrogen fuel cells and e-fuels as climate-neutral alternatives.

Wissing had announced resistance to the project at the beginning of the week and threatened that Germany would not be able to agree. He justified this with the fact that the EU Commission has not yet submitted a proposal on how only vehicles fuelled with climate-neutral fuels such as e-fuels can be registered after 2035. This was part of the agreement in the Council of EU states in June 2022, with which the FDP could be persuaded to agree within the Federal Government.