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Electrification of the EU not "Fit for 55"

From 2035, there are to be no more new cars with combustion engines in the EU. In addition, CO2 emissions from transport are to be reduced by 55 percent below today's level by 2030. But many EU countries are lagging miles behind in terms of electrification. The goal seems utopian.

The EU climate plan "Fit for 55", which was presented on Wednesday, leaves no room for combustion engines. Many countries have already announced that diesel and petrol will be phased out at some point. The EU itself has now also set 2035 as the year in which the last combustion cars are to roll off the production line. Within the next nine years, the CO2 emissions of the vehicle fleet are to be drastically reduced: 55% less CO2 will be emitted compared to today.

Many carmakers, such as VW, have already committed themselves to this goal. They want to go completely electric between 2028 and 2035. But while some carmakers still want to rely on e-fuels, the EU leaves no room for synthetic fuels. Since the manufacturers have to comply with emission ceilings with their fleets, but vehicles with e-fuels, unlike battery-powered vehicles, count towards the CO2 budget, the car manufacturers have hardly any room left for research and development of synthetic but climate-neutral fuels. The EU is thus following VW's goal of relying mainly on battery-powered e-cars.

But this goal seems almost utopian, at least across Europe. While some countries already have a high share of new cars with electric motors, many countries, especially in Eastern and Southern Europe, are far behind. Viewed over the entire EU, the share of electric cars is only 0.5%.

And not only the share of e-cars in the market, but also the charging structure is hardly developed in these countries.  In its package of measures, the EU has therefore also stipulated that in the future there must be a charging station every 60km on major roads, so that a nationwide charging network is created.

Only time will tell how the EU will implement these ambitious plans, both in terms of e-cars as a whole, but also in terms of emissions from the transport sector. What is certain is that many countries will have to receive enormous support in order to kick-start the market for electric cars.

In the case of other directives, for example regarding air pollution and environmental zones in Europe, it also shows time and again how long it takes for EU directives to be implemented. In many EU countries, the air is still significantly worse than permitted. Even countries like Germany and France, which introduced environmental zones years ago to combat high levels of air pollution, are repeatedly sued by the EU for violating EU directives. In other countries, especially in the East, no low emission zones are introduced at all.

So what the new package of measures actually means for the electrification of Europe remains to be seen. There is still a very long way to go before we have a purely electric transport sector.