As Copenhagen approaches, the pressure is on to find consensus at the highest political level on the exact figures that the EU is willing to put on the table to secure a new climate treaty. The bloc has been postponing the decision since last spring, and the June summit settled on hammering out all the details at the October European Council.
Nevertheless, it appears increasingly unlikely that EU heads of state and government will be able to present concrete sums to fund emissions reductions and climate adaptation measures in developing countries after finance ministers last week failed to find agreement. The talks stalled on objections from Eastern European member states, which want upfront funding before the climate treaty starts in 2013 to be voluntary.
EU diplomats told EurActiv that there is a "real chance" that no conclusions on funding will emerge from this week's summit.
The EU is still looking for the best tactics to ensure that developing countries do not treat its proposal as an initial offer and start bargaining for a better deal, a senior official said. He noted that one of the large member states, France, is still spearheading a position that money should not be put on the table yet.
If no financing decision is made this time around, EU leaders will give it another shot at the European Council on 10-11 December. A deal then would be struck just in time to finalise a negotiating position for the UN climate conference, the final days of which EU leaders will attend before the conference ends on 17 December.
Surplus credits spell problems
Another outstanding point likely to feature on the leaders' agenda is the treatment of unused pollution credits left over from the Kyoto Protocol (EurActiv 22/10/09). In the EU, many Eastern European countries are sitting on large amounts of credit, called Assigned Amount Units (AAUs), as their emissions have fallen since the fall of communism led to massive deindustrialisation.
Poland, for example, insists that it should be able to reap the benefits of its efforts to build new infrastructure by selling its surplus after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Germany, on the other hand, has said that all unused credits should be cancelled.
Much will depend on whether Germany is willing to buy out Poland, both in terms of surplus permits and financing, a diplomat said.
EU environment ministers failed to reach an agreement last week, saying that they would return to the issue later on.
Meanwhile, Sweden's Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren is keen to organise an extra Environment Council at the end of November to address such outstanding issues, EurActiv has learned. The Swedish Presidency is now waiting to see what comes out of the discussions at this week's summit to assess the need for an additional meeting.