The emerging Vivaldi coalition in Belgium is planning a ban on new company cars with combustion engines from 2026. The seven parties are still in negotiations to form the government. But should they succeed, this would be a big step.
After all, of six million cars currently on Belgian roads, 600,000 are company cars that all would become electric if the legislation goes through. Besides, the planned ban would cover all combustion engine vehicles, including those with plug-in hybrid drives. This means that from 2026, only purely electric company cars would be permitted.
Company cars make-up around ten per cent of the vehicle population in Belgium but are driven more frequently and for longer than the average, covering around 20 per cent of all kilometres driven, according to the country’s association of automobile manufacturers, Febiac. Nevertheless, Febiac spokesperson Joost Kaesemans is trying to put their environmental impact into perspective, saying “they are more environmentally friendly than the average. According to our analysis, they emit less than 2% of all CO2 emissions in the country. So let’s not overestimate the impact this measure can have”.
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According to media reports, the regulation currently under discussion will apply exclusively to new cars. For this reason, Frank van Gool, general director of the Belgian leasing and rental association Renta, fears another problem: An “insufficient charging infrastructure and a limited number of electric vehicles on the market” could motivate companies and people to continue driving their old fossil-fuelled vehicles. “That won’t help the environment,” says van Gool, who in turn invites the coalition parties to talks “to find a constructive path for the future.”
Just this week, it became clear that the EU Commission wants to tighten the set CO2 limits for cars again. New vehicles are to emit an average of 50 per cent less CO2 by 2030 compared to 2021. The Vivaldi coalition partners endorse this goal.
But first, the government in Belgium must be formed, and forming a viable government is hugely complex. Not only must the interests of many parties be taken into account, but also the balance between the Dutch-speaking Flemings and the Walloons (French and German-speaking areas). After the 2011 elections, it took more than 500 days for the government to be sworn in.
The current coalition negotiations have been underway since the summer. After the elections in May 2019, various coalition talks failed to reach an agreement and then were paused due to the Corona crisis. In the current discussions, a coalition of seven parties seems to be emerging: the Flemish Christian Democratic Party, as well as the liberal, socialist and green parties – the last three being one Flemish and one Walloon party.