Mercedes-Benz has welcomed news the German government has strongly backed its fight with the European Commission (EC) to have its r134a refrigerant accepted for use in its A, B, CLA and SL class models in France, although details from Berlin remain a virtual closed book.

The German automaker says Berlin vindicated its use of r134a as opposed to the EC-recommended r1234yf alternative, but scant details of the letter sent from the Transport Ministry to Brussels have been aired publicly.

"In our opinion, it [letter] supports our position in this whole situation - we consider it positive support," a Mercedes-Benz spokesman told just-auto from Germany. "It is a long letter based on questions they [EC] sent to the Ministry of Transport.

"They [EC] suggest we have done this to go around the European regulation for refrigerant and the Ministry of Transport says, on the contrary, Daimler was one of the first to comply with this new regulation."

Two issues are being addressed by the German government - namely concerns raised by the Commission and the use by France of Article 29 in the Mobile Air Conditioning directive.

The French Environment Ministry highlighted Article 29 allowing vehicle registrations to be suspended in extreme cases posing significant risk to road safety or public health, leading Mercedes to tersely bat back the suggestion, noting: "In our view this is obviously not the case and the respective actions are legally indefensible."

Following the exchange of letters between Brussels and Berlin, the spotlight now falls on Paris with an appeal by Mercedes in France's highest judicial authority, the Council of State, this Friday (23 August), to have its certification ban overturned.

"Our lawyers are preparing for this hearing - to my knowledge it is the highest level of French law," said the Mercedes spokesman. "It is not likely [however] they will decide on Friday.

"In theory, they could decide against us, but I don't know exactly what the next steps in law would be."

The German Transport Ministry also declined to reveal the content of the letter from the government to the EC, but told just-auto from Berlin: ""The Federal Government is of the opinion the proposed extension of the approval of Daimler, with additional variants is lawful."

The Commission confirmed it had received Germany's response to questions surrounding the use of r134a and was now assessing its response before deciding on "appropriate" action.

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