Ministers facing tough test on aviation and soil

EU countries locked in "extremely difficult" negotiations on carbon trading for airlines and soil protection directive

Environment ministers will face an uphill struggle to reach agreement on proposed EU laws on carbon trading in the aviation sector and soil protection at their final meeting of 2007.

Member state negotiations ahead of Thursday's environment council in Brussels have been described by officials as "extremely difficult", and agreement on either proposal is said to be far from assured.

EU governments are keen to reach agreement on the mechanism for including airlines in the EU emission trading scheme in the immediate wake of international climate talks in Bali. But according to one council source, member states remain split "roughly half and half" on most of the outstanding issues.

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