How the EU damages the European auto industry

2089714-connie-hedegaard-charmerede-eu-parlamentet-i-dag-efterflgende-svarede-hun-p-sprgsml-fra-pressenI’ve just done a lunch debate with EU Environment Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, who is passionately Warmist and green, and not a bad communicator, having done time as a journalist.  The topic was “CO2 and passenger cars: Reaching the Target”.  And the target seems to be 130 gm/km by 2015 (that’s a fleet average, I believe).  But they’re talking 90 gm/km by 2020 — a massive reduction.
 
The Commissioner spoke in glowing terms of the opportunities for fighting climate change, the relatively low cost of doing so by targeting the auto sector (though I believe that insulating buildings is an order-of-magnitude cheaper), and the commercial benefits of “leading the world” (how the Commission loves to lead the world!) in the fight for low-emission vehicles.
 
She was followed by Ivan Hodac, General Secretary of AECA, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, www.aeca.be.  He had a very different take.  The industry was facing too much regulation, too quickly.  In average terms across Europe, it was not making money, it was suffering, and it couldn’t take any more pressure.  The regulatory régime in Europe was much tougher than in any other market.  It was time to lighten up a bit.  The industry was doing its best, but it couldn’t work miracles.
 
Naturally I contributed to the debate.
 
“Chairman, you will understand my commitment to this debate when I tell you that my own car actually emits less than 300 gm/km.  I’d like to thank our speakers.  The Commissioner gave us an inspiring, visionary speech about the low-carbon economy she wants to see.  Mr. Hodac, on the other hand, gave us a gritty view from the coal-face, pointing out the problems we were creating for his industry.  It’s not making money.  It faces the toughest emissions rules in the world.
 
Commissioner, you say that our climate challenges are growing.  Yet the UK Met Office tells us that there has been no global warming for the last fifteen years, and they anticipate none for the next five years.  Perhaps we’re worrying too much? 
 
You tell us that the three areas you have identified with potential for new jobs are health, ICT and the “green” sector.  But you can create any number of jobs with massive subsidies.  And you will be familiar with academic reports indicating that each “green job” costs several real jobs in the real economy, as green policies push up energy prices, undermine competitiveness, stifle growth and prolong the recession.
 
You mentioned that when you first launched your auto emissions policy, you were accompanied by the General Secretary of a Consumer Organisation, and you argued that consumers support your policies.  May I ask if that was on of the many consumer groups subsidised by the European Commission?  Do these groups really represent consumers?  They certainly don’t represent me, and I’m a consumer.
 
In fact your policies are driving up costs and undermining competitiveness.  If you believe in consumers, surely we can trust consumer pressure to ensure that manufacturers increase the efficiency of the cars they build, rather than relying on regulation?
 
In conclusion, Chairman, let me say that I’d rather choose a car designed by Jaguar in Browns Lane than a car designed by the European Commission in the Berlaymont Building”.

Roger Helmer is UKIP’s spokesman on Industry and Energy

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