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Germany’s Merkel vows to protect auto sector jobs

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to protect jobs in her country’s car industry on Thursday, ahead of an EU summit where leaders will seek to set out a timetable for action on curbing emissions.

“I will be standing up particularly for jobs in Germany’s car sector,” Merkel said before the talks in Brussels, saying that countries which manufacture large cars should not be treated worse than those which produce smaller ones. “That is why we want a fair set of rules here,” she told reporters, adding that efforts to protect the environment must be tied in with maintaining a competitive industrial base.

EU states agreed in principle last year to cut emissions by at least one-fifth by 2020 from 1990 levels, to use 20% of renewable energy sources in power production and 10% of biofuels from crops in transport by the same date. The EU wants to work out the details on how to achieve those targets by this time next year so as to be ready for global talks on new emissions rules to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

The European Commission enraged Germany and its carmakers in December by proposing tough legislation to force down emissions of carbon dioxide from cars, with steep fines on manufacturers that fail to comply. German producers of heavier luxury vehicles such as Porsche, with by far the highest emissions of any major carmaker, BMW and Mercedes-Benz could face billions of euros in fines unless they change course fast. Car producers have denounced the plan, which requires makers of heavier luxury vehicles to make bigger cuts than manufacturers of smaller, lighter cars, and vowed to lobby member states and the European Parliament to fight them. (Reuters)