Britain announced earlier this week it is banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030 – five years earlier than initially planned – as part of the Prime Minister’s plans for a “green revolution” to cut emissions to net zero by 2050. Mr Johnson said the plan would aim to free up £12billion pounds of Government money with as much as three times that amount coming from the private sector, while creating to supporting 250,000 highly skilled green jobs by 2030. Last year, Britain became the first G7 country to set in law a net zero emission target by 2050, which will require wholesale changes in the way people in the country travel and use energy.
But there are fears the move to ban the registration of internal combustion engines from 2030 will significantly hit the German car industry – a lucrative export avenue for the country with the European Union’s biggest economy.
Germany is home to some of the biggest and well-known car manufacturers in the world, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen.
However, with just six weeks before the UK finally begins life outside the EU on January 1, 2021, German panic is starting to set in.
In an editorial for Welt, Alan Posener, a former edit of the German newspaper Welt, wrote: “Great Britain is pushing ahead and banning the registration of internal combustion engines from 2030.
Boris Johnson is piling the pressure on German car manufacturers
Boris Johnson has been on the front foot in Brexit talks
“Boris Johnson is putting German automakers under pressure – and exposing years of neglect by the federal government.
“Boris Johnson proves that ecological radicalism is not a prerogative of left or green politics. His “Green Industrial Revolution” is more radical than anything that has been decided on the continent so far.
“And with the ban on the registration of new internal combustion engines from 2030 – i.e. in ten years – the Conservative Government will hit the export-oriented German auto industry, which is struggling with innovations.
“In the run-up to Brexit, Johnson argued that the Germans’ desire to export their cars to the UK would force the European Union to accept the UK terms for future relations, namely access to the common single market without accepting the terms of that market such as free movement of people.
The UK is a valuable trading partner for German car manufacturers
“That didn’t happen. As much as the German industry values the British market; the integrity of the continental European market is more important to them.”
Mr Posener warned Mr Johnson is now “turning the tables” as German car manufacturers would lose much of the British market to global rivals if they don’t introduce competitive electric cars soon.
He praised the job done by Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel in promoting the country’s car industry and helping it as much as possible but issued a huge warning to her federal government.
The journalist continued: “Now Johnson is turning the tables: If German automakers don’t bring competitive electric cars onto the market soon, they’ll lose the British market to American and Chinese competitors. From around 2025 every Brit considering buying a new car should be on the lookout for an electric vehicle.
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“The depreciation of gasoline, diesel and even hybrid vehicles, which can still be sold until 2035, will accelerate from year to year.
“Angela Merkel’s Government spared the German auto industry and promoted it wherever it could: protected it from stricter European emissions regulations; the scrapping bonus is not linked to energy efficiency; the ban on new registrations of cars with internal combustion engines was postponed.
“But it shows once again that governments are doing companies a disservice if they give in to their lobbyists and pamper innovation-tired managers.
“The most important German markets – China and California, for example – have long since decided to end the combustion engine from 2030.
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“Johnson wants the UK to be carbon neutral by 2050. Huge investments in quadrupling offshore wind power and CO2-free local public transport, but also in new, smaller and effective nuclear power plants and CO2 storage, serve this ambitious goal.
“The populist’s plan shows that the times when “small Government” was the watchword for conservative forces are over. Government activism is the order of the day. And that’s just as well.
“Hopefully Germany won’t miss this train as well.”
The UK and EU remain locked in talks over a post-Brexit trade deal but with just six weeks until the end of the transition period on December 31, time is running out to get an agreement over the line.
Several stumbling blocks still remain, primarily around fishing rights, guarantees of fair competition and ways to solve future disputes.
An EU diplomat said after ambassadors were briefed on Friday by a Brussels negotiator: “We are both close and far away.
“It seems that we are very close to agreement on most issues but differences on the three contentious issues persist.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.