There are principles, and then there are economic interests—and they don’t always overlap. Germany has been doing its utmost to demonstrate that it has no illusions on this score by lobbying hard to prevent the EU from pushing through a set of lower CO2 emission standards.These new standards would stipulate that companies reduce their fleet-wide CO2 emissions from 130 grams to 95 grams per kilometer by 2020. Given that Germany’s auto industry is heavily invested in the comparatively inefficient luxury segment, these regulations would hurt competitiveness in a big way.
After a personal plea from Angela Merkel to Ireland’s Enda Kenny (who is the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency), the standards were silently removed from the agenda of today’s meeting, where they were set to be ratified. Other EU leaders are none too pleased, according to the FT:
France, Italy, Denmark and others were mounting a furious counter-attack on Thursday morning after learning of the Irish decision.The fight over the emissions legislation has added an extra wrinkle of tension to the two-day summit beginning on Thursday.
We’ll see if the fury of the also-rans of Europe amounts to much, but they’ve got a high hill to climb. Germany is cementing its leadership role in the EU on the back of its solid economic performance. What Germany wants, it seems to get, one way or another, and whether it makes sense or not.But it’s also a quiet confirmation of the primacy of economic factors that greens never seem to internalize: no country will willingly fall on its sword to save the planet. No one is disputing that, among developed nations, Germans are among the most committed to green causes. But they’re not going to gut their auto industry just to meet arbitrary emissions standards set by unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels.[Traffic image courtesy of Hung Chung Chih/Shutterstock.com]