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Ministers split over binding EU efficiency target

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Energy ministers meeting in Sweden on Thursday could not agree on whether the EU should adopt a binding target on energy efficiency. The European Commission is consulting on the issue as part of a review of the EU's energy efficiency action plan.

The ministers were split over the idea. Certain delegations said a binding 20% energy saving target would be too difficult to achieve, ENDS understands. But Swedish energy minister Maud Olofsson insisted governments remained "very committed" to the EU's energy efficiency goal.

EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said the commission was "seriously considering" an EU binding target, and that an increasing number of governments were warming up to the idea "compared to a half year ago". But the EU executive would not propose such a target before the second half of 2010, he said.

MEPs and some member states such as France have called for making the EU's goal of a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020. But the commission could propose a binding target that is less ambitious, ENDS understands.

Mr Piebalgs outlined the issues the commission intends to address in November's action plan (EE 15/06/09). The ministers said the plan should pay particular attention to issues such as smart grids, combined heat and power (CHP), micro-generation and more efficient transport systems.

The energy efficiency action plan is due to be published at the end of November. Spanish energy minister Pedro Marin said the plan would be one of his country's top priorities when it takes over the presidency of the EU next year.

Environment and energy ministers will meet on Friday to discuss synergies between policies on climate change, energy, eco-efficiency, innovation and competitiveness. The joint meeting is a first response to Sweden's call for an integrated policy agenda (EE 17/07/09).

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