Talks fail to solve EU energy funding row

European Parliament, Council, still divided over budget for Save II, Altener, programmes

The European Parliament and Council of Ministers yesterday failed to agree budget levels for the EU's Save II energy efficiency and Altener renewable energy support programmes at special negotiations sparked by the two institutions' inability to agree budgets under the normal legislative process (ENDS Daily 2 November). The Parliament is demanding funding of euros 68.4m for Save II and 81.1m for Altener, as proposed by the European Commission, whereas the Council has agreed budgets of euros 64m and 74m respectively. Finnish industry minister Erkki Tuomioja, joint chairman of the conciliation committee said, in a statement published by the European Parliament energy committee, that the Council had offered to increase both the programmes' budgets by euros 1.9m, half of which would be existing money reallocated from a separate EU programme called Synergy. But the Parliament's team rejected this as "totally unacceptable" and said that reallocation of funds was "not within the competence of the Council". Nuala Ahern, Green MEP and rapporteur for the Save II programme, told ENDS Daily that the Council's concession was derisory. She claimed that its attempt cut the budgets had been led by Austria, Sweden, the UK and Germany. "I am absolutely amazed that [Austria and Sweden], which are very active in energy saving, have joined the usual suspects," she said. Under EU rules for conciliation proceedings, six weeks remain for the committee to reach agreement. No date has yet been set for its next meeting.

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