At a conference held in Brussels yesterday by the European Wind Energy Association (Ewea), Commission official Luc Werring admitted that several sticking points remained, while a Swedish diplomat said that she expected the first reading to come under Sweden's presidency, which begins in January.
Several issues are now dividing EU countries. They include the nature of national targets to increase renewables' share of electricity, a proposed five-year delay before EU countries are forced to harmonise their support systems, and pressure from at least one country for waste incineration with energy recovery to be counted as a renewable energy.
Under the Commission proposal, all national renewables targets were to have been indicative, or non-binding, largely because governments had made it very clear in the run-up to the law's proposal that they would accept nothing stronger. Now, according to Mr Werring, a "large part" of the Council - thought to at least form a blocking minority - supports binding targets, while others continue to oppose them.
On support systems, Italy, backed to some extent by the UK, is proposing that a harmonised EU system balancing environmental protection objectives and the single market be launched immediately rather than delayed for five years. This is unacceptable to countries like Spain and Germany, whose feed-in support schemes are viewed with scepticism by the EU's internal market authorities.
Italy's push to keep waste incineration within the official ambit of renewable energy is strongly opposed by European environmental groups and some other governments. One source at yesterday's conference said that a possible compromise might be to accept just incineration of the biodegradable portion of waste streams.
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