Here's what recent developments in the EU really mean.
Over the last week or so, there have been many new developments on the road to a full-scale combustion engine ban in Europe. Some wanted the deadline for this proposal to be moved back a few years, but this never materialized. Then we learned that some politicians in the German government would seek to oppose the ban, and their lead was followed by more European Union member nations, including Italy and Portugal. These nations proposed that, instead of a 100% combustion engine ban by 2035, a 90% cut by 2035 should be agreed upon, with the 100% target delayed to 2040.
But as of today, 29 June, the EU Council has "adopted its negotiating positions (general approaches) on important legislative proposals in the 'Fit for 55' package." What does this mean, exactly? Will our dreams of driving a 911 Turbo on the Autobahn be all but dead? Allow us to explain.
Numerous outlets have today been reporting that this means the combustion ban has been approved and that combustion engines will be killed off altogether by 2035. However, the Council has only "adopted its negotiating positions", which means that it has now agreed on the finer details of the proposed law.
Among them, "the Council agreed to raise the targets for reducing CO2 emissions for new cars and new vans by 2030 to 55% [...] for cars and to 50% for vans. The Council also agreed to introduce a 100% CO2 emissions reduction target by 2035 for new cars and vans."
This law must still be voted on by EU member nations, and if it does not get approved, the road to a zero-emissions future could be a continuously winding one. While the Council has disappointed fans of noisy engines with this decision, there is also some good news to be found in its announcement.
"In 2026, the Commission will assess the progress made towards achieving the 100% emission reduction targets and the need to review these targets taking into account technological developments, including with regard to plug-in hybrid technologies and the importance of a viable and socially equitable transition towards zero emissions."
This means that the EU will take stock of the situation and see if the global industry is on course for the proposed goals but more importantly, the last section (thanks to a proposal from Germany) allows for the implementation of synthetic fuels or hydrogen (or something else) as alternative energy sources. If the automotive sector can prove that these will truly be zero-emissions technologies, then they can be approved for use.
The EU doesn't care how automakers reduce emissions to zero, as long as they get there. The statement concludes by informing us that the next step is negotiation with the European Parliament to reach an agreement on the "final legal texts."
This is good news, as earlier comments suggested that the EU was totally averse to anything but EVs. Combustion may be essentially banned, but there is a positive side. Let's just hope that Porsche, Hyundai, and others can make hydrogen and/or e-fuels a viable alternative before all the world's automakers jump ship and migrate to EVs.