The Czech Republic has invited transport ministers from 11 European Union counties to meet in Strasbourg on Monday to discuss emissions-cutting policies amid a dispute over the bloc's landmark policy to shift to electric vehicles.
Invited to the meeting are Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Finland, an EU official told Reuters. It is not yet confirmed which ministers will attend.
The meeting was initially planned to discuss a proposed EU law to tighten limits for vehicle emissions of health-harming pollutants like nitrogen oxides - a policy known as Euro 7. The Czech Republic, some other countries and industry groups have said they want to change it, calling it unrealistic and questioning the environmental benefits the law would bring.
But some EU officials said they now expect the meeting to discuss the countries' stance on the EU's law to end sales of new CO2-emitting cars in 2035. The bloc's main policy to speed up Europe's shift to electric vehicles got put on hold after Germany declared last-minute opposition to it.
Czech transport Minister Martin Kupka said last week, after meeting his German couterpart Volker Wissing in Berlin, that the country wanted changes to the 2035 ban on new CO2-emitting cars.
"We will not support the limitation of combustion engines after 2035, unless there will be a clear and binding exemption for synthetic fuels," Kupka said on Twitter.
Germany's transport ministry last week demanded reassurances that sales be allowed of new cars with internal combustion engines after 2035, if they run on CO2-neutral fuels.
The intervention surprised policymakers, since the European Parliament, the Commission and EU member states already agreed the car CO2 law last year after months of negotiations.
The policy was set to enter into force after a final vote this week, which was cancelled after Germany's opposition and has not yet been rescheduled.
Other opponents of the car CO2 law include Italy, Poland and a handful of other countries whose ranks have swelled since Europe's biggest economy signalled its opposition, EU officials said - raising the possibility of enough support to block it. (Reporting by Kate Abnett; additional reporting by Jason Hovet Editing by Tomasz Janowski)