BRUSSELS, Oct 30 – EU leaders on Friday reached a compromise deal on how to help developing nations tackle climate change, but without putting a figure to Europe’s contribution, officials said.
"We have an agreement," said Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, at the end of a two-day European summit in Brussels.
"The EU now has a strong negotiating position and the countdown to Copenhagen now has started," he added, referring to international climate talks in Denmark in December.
The EU leaders agreed that developing nations would need 100 billion euros worth of help annually by 2020 to tackle climate change and to deal with its consequences.
However the EU leaders failed to say how much of that money would be coming from Europe, amid strong differences mainly between the poor eastern European nations and the richer west.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said that a working group would now be set up to seek a concrete formula on how the bill is divided up in Europe.
Lithuania, Poland and seven other eastern EU nations have been firmly against the idea of linking contributions to polluting levels, which would leave them with a heavy bill.
They instead suggested that the burden sharing be divided according to national income, which would put the onus very much on the richer western European nations.
The 27-nation bloc prides itself in leading the fight against climate change, and has already agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, but many fear its leadership role could be compromised if it did not come to the Copenhagen talks with a strong, unified approach.
Otherwise Europe’s voice will be weakened when trying to persuade the likes of China, the United States and India to make swingeing cuts themselves.
The European Union has already agreed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.
It has also said it is willing to increase its own promised emissions cuts to 30 percent if the rest of the developed world does likewise at Copenhagen.
"We can now look the rest of the world in the eyes and say we Europeans have done our job," said EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso at the summit-closing press conference.
"It was essential that the European Union kept its leadership role and we have done that," he added.
However he cautioned that the EU "offers are not a blank cheque… we are ready to act if our partners are ready to deliver."