The European Union should not ban internal combustions within the next years because doing so would not be practically feasible, German Chancellor business leaders this week.

The comments come just days after British Prime Minister unveiled a goal to ban combustion engines in the UK by 2030, though he laid out no plan for how to meet this timeline.

Merkel, speaking at a meeting of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, said that a European Commission working group of industry and government representatives working in Brussels to devise legislative proposals to accompany new EU vehicle emissions standards should take practical limitations into account. While the working group has not come out with any recommendation yet, a study commissioned by the Commission laid out a pathway for the next emissions limitations that would be so strict that the automotive industry fears it will mean they can’t produce combustion engine cars after 2025.

It would be wrong for the EU to say it’s not going to ban the combustion engine but then make it “technically impossible” to put them on the market, Merkel said.

Several European cities have already set out their own timetables to ban combustion engines. For instance Brussels, the EU capital, will ban combustion engine cars in the city by 2035.

letter, signed in September by consumer groups, companies, NGOs and health experts, says EU countries should be forced to ban combustion engines by 2035 at the latest but be allowed to do so earlier. They also want the upcoming emissions targets to be strengthened in such a way that automakers say would make it practically difficult to put combustion engines on the market after 2025.

“If the current CO2 targets for cars and vans in 2025 and 2030 are not increased, there will be no significant investment into electric cars or vans from 2022 until 2029,” the letter states. “This is in spite of the fact that the technology is there, investments are flowing into electrification in Europe and the electric vehicle market is soaring despite the pandemic.”


Electric car sales have been experiencing a boom in Europe this year thanks to new more stringent emissions limits that took effect on January 1st. By the end of the year they will represent 10% of vehicle sales, rising to 15% by in 2021. This is up from just 2% early last year.

A recent survey

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