Austria threatens to veto green tech resolution

Friday, February 22, 2008

ENDS Europe DAILY 2489, 21/02/08

Austria is threatening to veto an EU resolution on a proposed plan to boost low-carbon technologies in Europe unless the bloc's 27 energy ministers agree nuclear research should not receive any extra EU funds, it emerged on Wednesday.

At the heart of the dispute is a European commission initiative to increase support for research on nuclear fission, one of six major energy projects to be launched as part of the strategic energy technologies (SET) initiative. Austria is strongly opposed to the nuclear project.

Energy ministers will attempt to settle the dispute at a council meeting in Brussels next Thursday after a committee of senior government officials was unable to agree a text of the resolution on Wednesday.

Austria says it can accept "the mere mention" of this initiative but wants an assurance in the text that "no [EU] funding whatsoever could be used for [it]", the Slovenian presidency says in a summary of governmental discussions on the resolution.

Slovenia has made changes to an earlier draft resolution to reflect Austria's concerns, but says the resolution is non-legislative and cannot determine EU budgetary policy. Vienna still has reservations.

The resolution, known as "council conclusions", does not formally require unanimity from ministers, but by convention the EU presidency does not push through their adoption without consensus.

The SET plan was unveiled by the commission in November. It is intended to help achieve the EU's new climate goals and consolidate Europe's position as a major player in the global market for environmental technologies.

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