Germany wins extra time in campaign to soften EU car emissions law

BRUSSELS Fri Oct 4, 2013 1:42pm EDT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Germany found unexpected allies on Friday in its campaign to protect its premium automakers, convincing EU diplomats to delay a vote on new carbon emissions limits to take effect from 2020.

The European Union agreed a deal in June to cut CO2 to 95 grams per kilometer (g/km) for all new EU cars from 2020, but Germany has lobbied to weaken the measure.

Analysts say it would be a major challenge for German carmakers Daimler and BMW.

At a closed-door meeting of EU member states on Friday, Germany was backed by Britain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in calling for more time, EU sources said on condition of anonymity.

"They want extra time to consider suggested changes," one source said, referring to a German plan for a phase-in of the proposed EU law.

Lithuania, holder of the EU presidency, said it could not disclose details of which member states had asked for a delay, but confirmed the issue had been deferred for a debate and possible vote at a council of environment ministers in Luxembourg on October 14.

Matthias Groote, a German member of the European Parliament, said the German government "must stop stalling".

"It is unacceptable that the EU's largest member state and biggest economy has yet again pushed back confirmation of a deal that was reached months ago," he said.

"These delays are holding back innovation in the car industry and EU efforts against climate change. All of us, including the Germany car industry, stand to benefit from progress in this area."

A week ago, Germany sent around a new proposal that the 95 g/km limit apply to only 80 percent of new cars in 2020, rising by 5 percentage points each year to full implementation in 2024.

Most carmakers are on course to achieve CO2 emissions comfortably below the interim EU target of 130 g/km for 2015 and Germany's lobbying has irked many EU partners, officials have said.

In parallel with the debate on cars, EU lawmakers have also debated limiting emissions from vans to 147 g/km by 2020. Those rules were endorsed on Friday, meaning they are ready to be rubber-stamped by EU ministers before becoming law.

(Editing by Jason Neely)

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