For years, the European Parliament has set different goals in the field of sustainability. But the first round of voting for the “FitFor55” package, the ambitious action plan against climate change, has created a number of problems among the majority who support the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen. The thirteen initiatives aimed at reducing EU CO2 emissions by 55% have caused a fierce confrontation between the popular and the socialists. A struggle focused on the two pillars of the European Green Agreement: the reform of the ETS system, which regulates trade in CO2 emission allowances and the carbon tax. Without an agreement, the text after the joint vote between the Socialists and two right-wing groups, in an attempt to be saved, will return to the Environment Commission. Among the approved proposals is the one banning the sale of diesel or petrol cars from 2035. With 339 in favor, 249 against and 24 neither for nor against, the bill must now be considered by the Commission and the Council. Here, too, the people voted against, proposing an amendment, which was rejected by the House, to allow car manufacturers to maintain a 10% share of the market for combustion vehicles (petrol, diesel, LPG) even after the specified year. Instead, a two-part amendment is adopted that will allow a waiver until 2036 for all car manufacturers producing up to 10,000 vehicles a year. A proposal supported by many Italian MEPs, which should aim to save the big brands in the so-called Emilian Motor Valley, including the best known, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Thirteen years therefore separates us from the disappearance of the car market by a large proportion of cars produced to date, which provide space only for zero-emission cars and vans. A decision that also leaves no room for hybrid engines.
2035: the end of the internal combustion engine?
First of all, it must be remembered that the European Parliament’s vote is only a directive. Subsequently, it will be up to the Member States to decide on its effective application. As for the sale of incinerators, it will only be banned for new ones, while those previously produced and sold can continue to be marketed. The current sales system will therefore be valid until 31 December 2034. A choice that for the Commission covers a period sufficient to lower the prices of electric cars, compared to the current costs.
However, the halt that the EU sanctioned was considered by much of public opinion to be “too hasty and risky” for two very specific reasons: the reduction in CO2 emissions would be “insignificant”, while the ban on sales first and foremost would primarily affect seats. work and on the whole economic system, which as far as Made in Italy is concerned is represented by a large part of the automotive sector. Among the alternatives listed, there will be a focus on hybrid propulsion, which in any case will make it possible to reduce consumption and emissions to more or less sustainable costs. The main problem with electric cars is that they are not within everyone’s reach, especially those who travel many kilometers a day to reach the workplace or other needs, while at the same time proving to be the most optimal solution for short journeys, especially in the cities. .
Despite this, it should be remembered that the EU is the third largest producer of CO2 in the world, and the car and transport sectors account for around 20.4% of the EU’s CO2 emissions. But the ban would only allow the sale of 100% electric or hydrogen engines and thus also exclude plug-in hybrids that allow you to drive in electric mode on the vast majority of routes, and which have emissions close to zero.
Speak by hand
According to the National Automobile Industry Industry Association (Anfia), the Italian supply chain has 2,200 companies and 160,000 employees, and the percentage of suppliers in the sector dedicated to petrol and diesel is 72.8% and 77.9%. And despite the current shortage of microchips, carmakers are already moving towards 100% production focused on the electric motor. For some, the expected date is 2027. But the problem is also of an infrastructural type: there are about 27 thousand pillars for electric charging throughout Italy. There would be a need for about 110 thousand in addition to the need to establish a standard for parking spaces reserved for electricity.
Another problem is the cost: an electric car in Italy costs on average 20-30% more than the others. A price that would fluctuate between 30,000 and 37,000 euros. This is why many families are turning to the used car market (approximately 3 million cars sold in 2021), petrol cars or converting their car to LPG. For public opinion that does not support the European Commission’s choice, the ban on sales will therefore increase inequalities and affect the labor market. If incentives or bonuses were included, these inequalities might be mitigated. But the situation we are in at the moment when the conflict in Ukraine has led to the crisis with raw materials, including fuels, inevitably makes us rethink the whole system: now we are looking at other markets, led by electric batteries and raw materials such as lithium, which is currently dominated by countries like China.
It is a new world divided in two: on the one hand, there are already alarms about an impending crisis in the car sector, and on the other hand, there are those who believe in a green change, but with the necessary public investment and eco-bonuses . . Divisions also in the Draghi government: from the Minister of Economic Development Giorgetti, concerned about the strong dependence on China, to the Minister of Transport Giovannini, who believes that the stop for 2035 is a reasonable date until the Minister of Ecological Change Cingolani warns: “if we in 2033 realize that it is impossible, we will have to reconsider it “.
The fact is that the “FitFor55” package was in danger of skipping completely. What happened last week is a split between the majority in the European Parliament, which also saw some members of the Democratic Party and the S&D vote no, worried about the cost of the green change. A hard blow, not only for the environmentalist, but for all members of the group who support Von Der Leyen, who, despite being popular, had welcomed the Green Deal as a guiding measure for the last term of the mandate. An all-against-all who saw twenty-one members of the PSE vote in the dissent and the right wing attacked the left wing for not wanting to protect workers and Made in Italy in the car sector.
The European Union is facing a period of uncertainty due to a series of events that have taken place in recent years: Covid and the war in Ukraine at the forefront. Today, the “Ursula” majority is faltering and the path of the European Commission will be more and more twisted.