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German minister says on right track with EU over combustion engine phase-out

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BERLIN, March 6 (Reuters) – Germany’s transport minister said on Monday that he was optimistic a row with the European Union over a bid to ban new cars with internal combustion engines could be solved, but added a decision did not need to be made in the coming days.

“We are on the right track,” said Volker Wissing on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting at Meseberg, near Berlin, which EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attended on Sunday.

Von der Leyen is pressing for quick agreement on the issue, and she and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed on Sunday that they were in “constructive talks”, without giving more detail.

The transport minister said on Monday that he agreed with von der Leyen that the EU’s climate goals had to be met, and the issue now was how to integrate openness to technology into the Commission’s proposals.

Wissing wants the use of synthetic fuels to remain possible after the 2035 deadline and has said the Commission’s promised proposal on how to make this happen is still missing.

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EU countries were due to hold their final vote on the law on Friday – a step that is usually a formality and approves a law with no changes.

But that vote was cancelled, and as of Monday morning, had not been rescheduled.

Wissing said that the issue was not one that needed to be decided within a week, alluding to the postponed vote.

The European Commission and Sweden, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, are both holding consultations with countries to attempt to find agreement on the law.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Kate Abnett; writing by Miranda Murray; editing by Jason Neely

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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