BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An agreement between Germany and France on cutting carbon dioxide emissions from new cars received a welcome from the European Commission on Tuesday, but carmakers and green groups criticized the compromise.
The Commission, executive arm of the European Union, has proposed limiting emissions from new cars to 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer on average from 2012, and Berlin and Paris said on Monday they would broadly support that goal.
Europe’s two biggest car manufacturing nations had been trying to reach a compromise on burden-sharing of CO2 reductions for months, with Germany fearing the Commission’s initial proposal would disadvantage its car industry overseas.
But environmentalists say curbs under the new deal would be phased in too slowly, with too few penalties for non-compliance.
Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio told a regular briefing: “We welcome the convergence of views of two member states that have significant car industries.”
“It is a convergence around the Commission’s proposals, which is a second important element to underline,” he added. “The process is still under way so there is no question of amending the proposals at this stage.”
Germany’s BDI industry group said Chancellor Angela Merkel had strongly defended German industrial interests in her talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday in Bavaria.
“It’s not an optimal but an acceptable solution,” BDI Managing Director Werner Schnappauf said.
But Germany’s opposition Greens party and pressure group Greenpeace sharply criticized the proposal, accusing Merkel of putting carmakers’ interests before environmental concerns.
“With all the small print they have introduced, the target would no longer be 120 grams CO2 per km by 2012, but a whopping 138 grams by some unspecified date,” said Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU transport campaigner.
The European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) said the deal would hinder the development of fuel-efficient cars in the EU for the next decade and called on the EU’s other 25 states to veto the plan.
“They want to keep Europe worryingly dependent on imported oil from the Middle East and Russia and do nothing about the region’s oil import bill, as of last Friday standing at 1 billion euros ($1.56 billion) a day,” T&E’s Aat Peterse said.
Reporting by Pete Harrison; Editing by Dale Hudson