Automotive: Italy leads the way in the fight against the end of combustion engines
After the announcement of the end of thermal engines from 2035, eight European countries, led by Italy, are still fighting against the EU’s proposed standards. The position is not unanimous, pitting industrial lobbies against environmental advocates.
Giorgia Meloni’s nationalist government found itself in trouble during its unsuccessful fight against a ban on internal combustion engines in new cars from 2035. Now that same government is leading a rebellion in Europe against Brussels’ proposals to tighten car pollution standards.
A common front of eight European countries, including Italy and France, has formed against a future standard, called Euro 7, which tightens the conditions for testing vehicle emissions and should apply from 2025.
“Italy is leading the way, our positions are more and more widely shared”, said Enterprise Minister Adolfo Urso on Monday, a staunch defender of the national industry.
A view widely shared by Transport Minister Matteo Salvini, who considers that the EU proposal “is clearly wrong and not even useful from an environmental point of view”. He calls for a “blocking majority” to slow down this project, which is considered too costly by the automotive industry. Matteo Salvini, head of the far-right League party, had already led the charge against the extinction of internal combustion engines in 2035, deemed “a folly” that would “destroy thousands of jobs for Italian workers”, to the benefit of China, ahead of the electric vehicles.
A few months ago, Germany had also threatened to block this measure of the end of thermal engines. Brussels opened the way for synthetic fuels in March, but did not give in to Rome’s request to authorize biofuels to extend the life of internal combustion engines.
According to experts, the technology of synthetic fuels, which remains controversial and under development, would only concern a minority of luxury vehicles, such as those of Ferrari. The latter welcomed this concession from Brussels.
Pressure from an “industrial lobby
However, a discreet front fears that this refusal to adhere to European standards will harm the country.
In Italy, “environmental and climate issues are always relegated to the background”, under the pressure of a “strong industrial lobby” in the automotive and energy sectors, deplores an official of Greenpeace Italy, Federico Spadini. “None of the governments of recent years has been up to the environmental challenges. Italy has unfortunately not made a name for itself in Europe as a climate champion.”
For him, “it is certain that with the Meloni government, the situation has deteriorated.”
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