A senior EU official said Sunday that a European Union deadline to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new cars by 2012 was unrealistic, according to an interview with a German newspaper.
Industry Commissioner Guenther Verheugen said that the proposals -- under which carmakers will be fined for failing to meet emission limits by the deadline -- were already likely to be delayed by the European Parliament.
"I fully support the Commission objective," said Verheugen, a commission vice-president, but "the European automobile industry will (only), in my opinion, be able to meet the target without great difficulty from 2015."
Brussels has proposed that all cars sold in Europe in 2012, whether European-made or not, should reach an overall objective of 120-130 grammes (4.2-4.6 ounces) of CO2 emitted per kilometre (0.6 miles), as opposed to an average of 160 grammes today.
The EU executive wants to penalise automakers who do not reach the goal by 2012 with a charge of 20 euros (30 dollars) per extra gramme of CO2 per car, with the penalties rising to 95 euros by 2015.
"Even the Commission knows that not all new cars will meet these standards by 2012," Verheugen continued, adding that "there are already calls from the (European) Parliament to extend the deadline to 2015."
"The Commission has to get it into its head that we have to reach a sensible compromise," he said.
"In any case, the Parliament will have the final word."
Differences across national boundaries have complicated the arguments, with Berlin concerned that the regulations would penalise heavier cars, creating more favourable market conditions for lighter engine manufacturing, as is the case with French or Italian models.
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