From: Aoife White, Associated Press
Published February 16, 2007 12:00 AM

EU Energy Ministers Postpone Decision on Plan to Turn Europe into Low-Carbon Economy

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- StorEU energy ministers on Thursday postponed major decisions on an ambitious plan to turn Europe into a low-carbon economy, failing to agree on a plan to open up energy markets and set binding targets for renewable energy.

As Europeans grow more anxious about climate change, power prices and future energy supply, the European Commission is asking governments to tell it what direction it should go in before proposing new draft laws in the autumn.

But it was clear that the EU's 27 nations have very different ideas on where their energy should come from and what EU-wide rules should require them do in the future.

They could not agree on whether a European Commission target for 20 percent of all energy to come from renewable sources in 2020 should be mandatory -- leaving the final word to EU leaders at a March summit.

"I very much hope that things will change," said German Economy Minister Michael Glos. "Let's hope we do go further. ... It is up for discussion soon."

They did, however, manage to set a binding goal for biofuels to replace 10 percent of vehicle fuel across the EU, but leaving wriggle room for small nations such as Luxembourg and Malta to import biofuel they cannot produce.

Recent blackouts and growing worries over possible changes to weather patterns, higher energy prices and the reliability of oil and gas suppliers have made the EU's plan to try to solve energy woes more significant than ever.

The EU energy ministers also avoided a decision on how the EU should push ahead and open up the energy market, with the stated goal that the electricity network should be "independently run and adequately regulated," with guaranteed access to all energy providers.

Source: Associated Press

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