Merkel welcomes new “dieselgate” policy compromise in Germany

BERLIN, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed a policy compromise reached by Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer and the national automotive industry on Friday.

Martina Fietz, a spokesperson for the federal government, told the press that Merkel considered the latest development to “definitely be a step in the right direction.” The chancellor expected the industry to “assume its responsibility” in the emissions-cheating scandal and would continue to monitor the development of their related talks with Scheuer.

On Thursday, carmakers agreed to enhance financial offers made to owners of older diesel vehicles following protracted negotiations with the ministry of transport. Merkel’s government has repeatedly stated that it is keen to prevent cities from imposing diesel driving bans as a final resort to improve urban air quality and would instead promote fleet-renewal measures and so-called “hardware upgrades” to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution.

During the latest round of talks between Scheuer and automotive executives, the major Volkswagen and Daimler Groups have both agreed to foot a bill of up to 3,000 euros (3,400 U.S. dollars) per vehicle to conduct hardware upgrades. While BMW continues to oppose this specific form of technical retro-fitting, the Munich-based company said that it would also contribute the same amount in funding per vehicle for other “producer-specific measures”.

As a number of German cities where courts have ordered outright bans to ensure compliance with European Union (EU) clean air legislation continues to grow, Merkel has told the press that she would seek to pass legislation to outlaw such “disproportionate” measures where NOx emissions levels are only slightly above EU emissions limits.

A spokesperson for the ministry of the environment noted on Friday that it was too early to say whether 3,000 euros per car would cover the cost of all necessary retrofitting measures. However, the spokesperson expressed confidence that in most the amount of funds needed to upgrade older diesel vehicles would be below that figure.

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