European Union leaders clashed over the bloc’s plans to tackle climate change on Thursday, arguing over how to pay for a green transition and the role of nuclear power.
Brussels’ new leadership, under European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, wants member states to use their summit to commit to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.
But at least three coal-hungry countries in the east of the bloc are holding out for a more detailed promise of funding for their energy transition, and when the leaders broke for dinner agreement was still far off.
Opposition to the 2050 target from eastern members such as the Czech Republic and Poland also fed into what is expected to be a long, bitter summit debate about climate change and the long-term EU budget.
Von der Leyen’s ‘European Green Deal’ includes a plan to mobilise 100 billion euros to help countries with the move towards carbon neutrality, but critics say this is not enough.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who wants more detailed assurances about funding, said the Czech Republic alone would need 30 to 40 billion euros ($27 to $36 billion) to achieve carbon neutrality.
And Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda estimated the transition would cost two-thirds of his country’s GDP.
Hungary and the Czech Republic want the summit conclusions to explicitly endorse nuclear power. But the latest draft seen by AFP simply acknowledges their right to ‘decide on their energy mix and to choose the most appropriate technologies’.
The Czech leader also hit out at countries like Austria and Luxembourg for refusing to agree to the EU endorsing nuclear energy as green.—APP