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EU bids to overcome Italian, Polish resistance

Latest update : 2008-10-16

EU leaders have agreed to take into account "national concerns" over an ambitious plan to tackle climate change after Poland and Italy threatened to scupper the project because of the costs to their economies.

Europe's ambitious plan to tackle climate change showed signs of unravelling Thursday with EU leaders set to tailor the final package to take account of national concerns about its economic impact.

 

In a draft declaration prepared for an EU summit in Brussels which ends Thursday, the 27 heads of state and government agree that the climate change package should be introduced in a "cost-effective manner... having regard to each member state's specific situation".

 

The wording was added after Italian and Polish leaders on Wednesday threatened to veto the plan, concerned at its effect on their economies.

 

The concession allowed the EU 27 to stick to their timetable for reaching agreement on the deal in December.

 

Last year, EU leaders vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. They also pledged to have renewable energies make up 20 percent of all energy sources.

 

But many EU nations have begun to baulk at the costs involved and the consequences to industry of the climate change goals.

 

Poland, heavily dependent on coal-fired power, said it would resist attempts to railroad the targets through.

 

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was the most outspoken on Wednesday, threatening to to torpedo the EU climate change plans, branding them too big a burden for business amid the global financial crisis.

 

The EU hopes the deal, when reached, will put Europe at the forefront of international talks on climate change in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Date created : 2008-10-16

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