Endothermic announcement - The European Parliament breaks up on the eve of the vote

There are only a few hours left for the vote that will decide the fate of the internal combustion engine. A vote that, at least on the eve, seems absolutely not to be taken for granted. The European Parliament, meeting in plenary assembly in Strasbourg, has in fact begun the debate on “Fit for 55”, the package of measures presented by the European Commission to combat climate change, decarbonise the continental economy and achieve climate neutrality. One of the main initiatives, as is now known, concerns the obligation to sell zero-emission vehicles by 2035: in essence, it is the infamous ban on internal combustion engines. Could this be the future of a technology that has made the fortunes of the European automotive industry? Pending the vote tomorrow afternoon, nothing is certain: in fact, from the statements of the representatives of the main parliamentary groups, a clear split emerges between those who are against the Brussels proposals and ask for changes and those who, on the other hand, have expressed full support for the policies of the Commission.

The opposites. Among the critics is the European People’s Party, strong with its 182 parliamentarians, making it the first political group in Strasbourg. During the debate, its representatives did not question the need to combat climate change: however, they asked the Commission not to hold “ideological or dogmatic” positions to avoid negative consequences for families and businesses, in the belief that a transition made only of prohibitions is destined to generate a sharp increase in costs to the detriment, above all, of the middle classes or the most vulnerable people. In this sense, the request was reiterated to focus on technological neutrality and on a “realistic and pragmatic” approach, also in light of the current macroeconomic and geopolitical tensions and the related effects on European citizens. “This is a ban for ideological reasons that will lead to job losses and dependence on China. As EPP we cannot follow this path”, said one of the party representatives, recalling the presentation of amendments to reduce to 90 % target to 2035 and to include biofuels in European strategies. Identity and Democracy, with its 73 parliamentarians, and European Conservatives and Reformists (62 members) are also opposed to the ban. The representatives of the first group, for example, raised the alarm about cars destined to become “a luxury item for most European citizens” and lashed out against “policies that create elites”, those of the second asked Brussels to push for a transition that considers not only the protection of the environment, but also multiple aspects: employment, industry, economy, alternative technologies.

I in favor. The front of those in favor is represented by the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), a group of 154 parliamentarians according to which “everyone must contribute to the reduction of emissions”, albeit in the face of a “socially just” transition. The 108 members of Renew Europe are also in favor: “The international context forces us to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and if we do not put an end to internal combustion engines, we will not achieve the objectives of climate neutrality, the Paris Agreement and our European regulations . We must vote for the ban, but we must also accompany the transition of the sector “. The support of the 74 belonging to the Greens and the European Free Alliance, the 41 of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left and the 57 of the mixed is evident. The main message sent to the Chamber is clear enough: “We need to act quickly to combat climate change, decarbonise the industry and reduce dependence on fossil fuels”. The same position was held by Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission who represented the highest executive body of the EU during the plenary. In any case, within the two fronts there was no lack of discordant voices and therefore it is not enough to add up the number of parliamentarians enrolled in the various groups to hypothesize the outcome of the vote. At the moment, however, the scales seem to be tipping towards an approval of the package. On one issue, however, the assembly did not highlight any rifts, namely the need to accompany the transition and, above all, to ensure that it “does not stop at the borders of Europe”. The vote is scheduled for 5pm on Wednesday: in the event of a green light from Strasburbo, it will be up to the individual EU member states to take a stand, within a complex process established by EU treaties and centered on relations between the various representative bodies ( the so-called trilogue).

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