Ministers agreed to pursue efforts on renewable energies but countries such as France refuse new binding targets until priority is placed on low-carbon sources, including nuclear, to achieve overarching climate goals.

Ministers shared views on energy efficiency and renewables on 22 November as part of a broader discussion on the EU's energy choices ahead of a Strategic EU Energy Review to be presented by the Commission in January.

The review will assess the contribution of every source of energy - wind, nuclear, coal or other - to the objectives of sustainability, competitiveness and supply security endorsed by EU leaders in March. It will also include a renewable energy road map with possible new targets after 2010.

The ministers were only able to reach a minimalist consensus, saying that renewable energies "enhance competitiveness and security of supply". They insisted on R&D programmes at both national and EU levels to make the technologies more competitive.

Discussions were held based on a questionnaire circulated by the Finnish Presidency. On renewables, the Finns recalled "each member states' right to decide on its own energy mix", bearing in mind local circumstances.

But it added that the development of renewables also "has consequences in terms of generation, transmission and distribution and therefore cannot be treated in isolation from decisions on the overall fuel-mix."