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- Dispute over CO2 fleet limits: e-fuels until ban on combustion SUVs
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The Federal Assembly yesterday confirmed Frank-Walter Steinmeier as Federal President with a broad majority for another five years. After his re-election, he used the first speech for clear words to Vladimir Putin, whom he blamed for the escalation in the Ukraine conflict. At the same time, he appealed to the Russian president: “Help us find a way to keep the peace in Europe!”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is heading to Kiev today to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Scholz is expected to pledge further economic support to Ukraine. He then will travel to Moscow for talks with Putin on Tuesday morning. His travels are accompanied by growing concerns about a Russian invasion of Ukraine. German politicians are less vocal than the US government in their warnings, but they also consider the situation to be dire. Nevertheless, German government circles are at pains not to give the impression that Scholz’s visit is the last chance to avert war.
Against the backdrop of a looming threat of war in Ukraine, the draft final report of the INGE Special Committee takes on added poignancy. The committee’s goal is to look for evidence of foreign interference in democratic processes and institutions and to develop counterstrategies. The conclusion is that the EU is too careless about foreign interference . China, for example, is increasingly successful in using top politicians for its own purposes – following the example of Russia, which can count on the loyal support of former Chancellor Schröder. The committee also calls for the EU’s Code of Practice on Disinformation to be tightened up – a point that is likely to cause controversy, as Eric Bonse writes.
The tightening of CO2 fleet limits for cars and vans is one of the most controversial dossiers in the Fit for 55 package. The limits set emission reduction targets for an automaker’s entire fleet of new cars. But the EU Parliament’s rapporteurs are not only wrestling over the level of the limits and the date when fleets should be emission-free. They are also discussing the inclusion of e-fuels within the limits and bans on particularly dirty cars. One Green parliamentarian is even calling for the end of combustion engine SUVs from 2025. Lukas Scheid breaks down who is calling for which reduction targets and takes a closer look at some of the proposals.
EU Parliament to take action against ‘elite capture’ by Russia and China
The European Parliament calls for more action in the fight against disinformation, foreign interference, and elite capture. The EU must introduce its own sanctions regime against disinformation and ensure that Russia cannot recruit top politicians such as Gerhard Schröder or François Fillon in the future and use them for its own purposes, said the chairman of the INGE Committee, Raphaël Glucksmann (S&D, France).
The INGE Special Committee was established in June 2020 to seek evidence of foreign interference in democratic processes and institutions and to develop counterstrategies. It has been active for 18 months and has undertaken its own research, such as a high-profile trip to Taiwan. Last week, the rapporteur, Sandra Kalniete (EPP, Latvia), presented the draft final report.
Against the backdrop of the growing threat of war in Ukraine, this report now takes on a particularly explosive character. The EU accuses Russia of destabilizing Ukraine with targeted false reports and preparing for an invasion. Most recently, the European External Action Service (EEAS) had also sounded the alarm. “Pro-Kremlin media are fueling tensions around Ukraine,” reads the newsletter of the EEAS task force against disinformation.