Italy leads revolt against Europe’s electric vehicle transition
Milan — Italy’s nationalist government is leading a rebellion against EU plans to tighten vehicle emissions limits, vowing to defend the country’s automotive industry still tied to the combustion engine. . Prime Minister Georgia Maloney’s far-right coalition, which came to power last October, tried and failed to block EU plans to ban sales of new fossil-fueled cars by 2035, which was supported by his predecessor Mario Draghi.
But this week the government shifted its fight to the planned “Euro 7” pollution standards, joining seven other EU member states – including France and Poland – from Brussels to come into effect in July 2025. to call for the removal of Wally limits.
“Italy is showing the way, our positions are more and more common,” said Enterprise Minister Adolfo Urso, an ardent defender of the national industry, which he called an “ideological vision” of climate change.
The EU plan is “clearly wrong and not even useful from an environmental point of view,” added Transport Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, which is in power with Maloney’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy. are participants.
Salvini led the unsuccessful charge against a ban on internal combustion engines, calling it “madness” that would “destroy thousands of jobs for Italian workers” while taking advantage. China, a leader in electric vehicles.
Federico Spadini from Greenpeace Italy lamented that “environmental and climate questions always come second,” blaming “strong industrial lobbies in Italy” in the automobile and energy sectors.
“No government has been able to meet the environmental challenge in recent years,” he told AFP.
“Unfortunately, Italy is not known as a climate champion in Europe. And it is clear that with Meloni’s government, the situation has worsened,” he said.
Jobs “shifted to traditional engines”
In 2022, the automotive sector in Italy had approximately 270,000 direct or indirect employees, accounting for 5.2% of GDP.
The European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) has warned that a switch to all-electric cars could cut more than 60,000 jobs for automobile suppliers in Italy alone by 2035.
Lorenzo Codogno, the former chief economist of the Italian Treasury, noted, “Since Fiat was absorbed by Stellantis in 2021, Italy no longer has a large automobile industry, but it is large in terms of components, which are all conventional engines. focused on.”
Even for consumers, the electricity revolution is yet to come.
According to Eurostat’s latest statistics for 2020, Italians are attached to their cars, ranking fourth behind Liechtenstein, Iceland and Luxembourg with 670 passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants.
But sales of electric cars will drop by 26.9% to just 3.7% of the market in 2022, compared to the EU average of 12.1%.
Subsidies to promote zero-emission vehicles were cut, while Minister Ursu has admitted that on infrastructure, “we are far behind.”
He revealed that Italy has only 36,000 electric charging stations, compared to 90,000 in the Netherlands, a country a fraction of Italy’s size.
“There is no enthusiasm for electric cars in Italy,” Felipe Munoz, an analyst at automotive data company Jato Dynamics, told AFP. “Offer is modest, with only one model produced by national carmaker Fiat.”
Also, “purchasing power is not very high, people cannot afford electric vehicles, which are expensive. So, unlike the Nordic countries, demand is low.”
Gert Marks, head of Italian truck maker Iveco, agrees.
“We risk turning into a big Cuba, with very old cars still running for years, because part of the population won’t be able to afford an electric model,” he said.