Berlin/Brussels (dpa) – German Transport Minister Volker Wissing is seeking a quick agreement in the dispute with the EU Commission over the planned ban on new cars with internal combustion engines. A spokeswoman said in Berlin on Wednesday that talks were at an advanced stage. “We have comprehensively clarified many legal issues and can now move on to the next details. Our goal remains: to reach an agreement as quickly as possible. The procedures are extremely complicated and require careful consideration by both sides.”

An EU summit started in Brussels on Thursday. Wissing and his liberal FDP want the EU Commission to identify a reliable way in which passenger cars with internal combustion engines could still be newly registered even after 2035, provided they were powered only by so-called e-fuels.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens), referring to a proposed solution by the EU Commission, said that this draft appeared to take into account the concerns of the FDP and that nothing stood in the way of an agreement. In the draft, which is available to German press agency dpa, the Commission defines criteria for the approval of new vehicles that can run exclusively on CO2-neutral fuels.

In fact, negotiators from the European Parliament and the EU states had already agreed in autumn that only emission-free new cars might be registered in the EU from 2035. However, a vote by the EU Member States to confirm the deal, scheduled for early March, was canceled due to additional demands from Germany. As Italy, Bulgaria and Poland also reject the ban on internal combustion vehicles, the law would not have achieved the necessary majority without German approval.

Within the German federal government, the FDP in particular insists that even after 2035, new cars with combustion engines may still be registered if they use climate-neutral e-fuels. The party justifies this with a so-called recital clause in the autumn agreement, which provides for certain exemptions for combustion engines using e-fuels. (March 22)

EU-27 criticize plan to eliminate trawling in protected areas by 2030

Brussels (Europa Press) — On Monday, the Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries of the European Union voiced their broad rejection of the European Commission’s idea to eliminate trawling in marine protected areas by 2030. They consider it “hasty and unbalanced”, thinking that it is not taking into account socio-economic consequences.

The ban is part of the plan presented by the European Commission last February to reduce the impact of bottom fishing and protect and restore marine ecosystems.

But countries such as Belgium, Germany, Greece, Ireland and the Netherlands pointed out that a ban on trawling “is not the best way” to achieve the climate objectives pursued by the EU. Spain and France, for their part, are concerned that this practice will end up disappearing if it is reduced to the levels of the Commission’s plan of action.

In Spain, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, expressed the need to act cautiously when it comes to regulating trawling. In Spanish territory, 805 vessels operate in the sector – just under 10 percent of the entire Spanish fleet – and their activity is already subject to restrictions in certain pelagic or semi-pelagic areas. (20 March)

No additional direct military aid for Ukraine from Bulgaria

BRUSSELS/SOFIA – The Bulgarian interim government is not preparing an agreement to provide additional military and military-technical assistance to Ukraine, interim Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov said.

He participated in the meeting of his EU counterparts, where a project for the joint acquisition and delivery of 155-mm projectiles to Ukraine was discussed. Stoyanov clarified that Bulgaria is not part of this general procurement, as the Bulgarian Army does not have any means to use this caliber.

Stoyanov explained that the Bulgarian state and private companies produce ammunition of the specified caliber. A week ago, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton had visited Bulgaria to get acquainted with the possibilities for providing Ukraine with the ammunition needed. Bulgarian companies are expected to continue the execution of contracts for the supply of ammunition to EU countries.

Meanwhile, the interim government adopted a decision to extend the humanitarian assistance program for Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria. (20 March)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.