The French and German governments strike a deal over the proposed compulsory 120 g/km carbon-dioxide emissions target for automobiles sold within the European Union, with Paris giving ground to Berlin in some key areas.

Germany has opposed the European Commission’s tentative CO2 cap for 2012, saying the technological and cost burden would fall unfairly on its own iconic auto industry, which produces high-powered vehicles with comparatively high emissions.

But at the latest annual Franco-German summit, staged in the car-manufacturing hub of Bavaria this year, the two governments appear to have forged a deal that could clear the way for adoption of the proposals currently before the EU Council of Ministers.

“Both countries support the (2012) target…as set by the proposal of the Commission,” the French and German governments say in a joint communique, adding they both accept a Brussels-proposed compromise that takes into account “the average mass of the vehicles sold by (each of the) car makers.”

Up to now, France had been frosty about giving manufacturers of larger cars a break within the formula, because the French auto industry builds smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles than its German counterpart.

Not only has Paris accepted this key point, it is offering an additional concession.

“The directive should allow the car makers to be given a credit, up to a certain limit (from 6-8 g/km) for the average of their fleet, related to the use of (newly emerging) green technologies,” the joint statement says.

This would enable the Commission to write a set of guidelines that enable auto makers to earn credits for application of new technological innovations while allowing their fleets to exceed the CO2 targets.

In addition, both countries are backing “a substantial phasing-in” of the limit “beyond the Commission proposal.” They also call for only small penalties on auto markers for “small deviations” from the directive.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hails the deal as an “important breakthrough.”

Environmentalists are less amused.

“The car industry says ‘jump,’ and France and Germany say ‘how high?’” a Greenpeace spokesman says.