Conservative forces in the European Parliament are considering calling on the EU to drop its 2035 ban on petrol and diesel engines in an embarrassing blow to Ursula von der Leyen.
The European Commission president has made the green deal a flagship policy in the bloc’s push for net zero but there are growing calls to roll back green rules because of the cost of living crisis.
Mrs von der Leyen’s own party, the centre-Right European People’s Party (EPP), plans to oppose the phased ban on petrol and diesel engines.
In September last year, Rishi Sunak delayed the UK’s ban on internal combustion engines from 2030 by five years to 2035, in line with Europe. The Prime Minister said it would protect hard-pressed families from “unacceptable costs”.
The call to ditch the ban is part of the EPP’s draft manifesto ahead of June’s European Parliament elections.
The so-called burden of green regulations is already a hot button issue after recent mass protests by Dutch and German farmers.
‘We reject a ban’
The manifesto, obtained by the Politico website, said: “We reject a ban policy, such as a ban on combustion engines, and will also revise it as soon as possible.”
It would instead rely on “innovative concepts and market-based instruments” and the “expansion of renewable energies”.
The EPP has already led calls to relax strict EU protections for the wolf, which Mrs von der Leyen supported after Dolly, her beloved horse, was killed by one of the predators.
It also opposed the EU’s nature restoration law, which narrowly passed in watered down form last year, after arguing it damaged farmers and food security.
The party is expected to remain the largest bloc in the parliament after this year’s elections, despite increased support for the hard-Right in some EU countries.
That would make it easier for Mrs von der Leyen to remain as commission president for a second term, after she was forced to reach out to green and Left-wing MEPs to get the job five years ago.
The draft manifesto is subject to change. In its current form, it also calls for stricter controls in migration, as Europe swings further to the Right.
In an echo of Mr Sunak’s Rwanda policy, the EPP wants to process more asylum applications outside the EU, as well as triple the number of EU border guards to 30,000.