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EU Ministers Fail to Agree on Key Energy Projects

EU member states failed to agree Monday on how to fund key energy projects

EU Ministers Fail to Agree on Key Energy Projects

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier explained that there is still a need for further discussion on how to fund a key economic stimulus measure which would put $4.8 billion of community money into energy projects.

The cash was to come from unused EU budget finding for 2008. However the deadline for using those funds passed without agreement.

Germany and Austria favour considering the projects involved on a case-by-case basis for funding.

In order to overcome the reticence, the commission rejigged its plans, giving more to energy security measures, but this failed to convince several European Union nations.

Spanish Foreign Secretary Diego Lopez Garrido, attending Monday's Brussels meeting, expressed his country's misgivings.

"We are not in complete agreement with the latest version," and "we hope it will be modified," he told reporters.

Spain is contesting the geographical balance of the projects earmarked for financing, as is Portugal and "to a certain extent" Greece and Bulgaria, a European diplomat said.

A British diplomat said there should be debate on funding the plans over the next three years, out of the EU's 2009, 2010 and 2011 budgets.

Diplomats said that a deal would be sought ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on March 19.

Another option would be to set up a separate funding mechanism, but there was little appetite for extra funding while Europe is in recession.

Despite the differences "the discussion (Monday) was certainly more consensual" than in previous debates in recent weeks, one said.

EU heads of state and government are also expected to return to the subject during an informal summit in the Belgian capital on Sunday dedicated to the financial and economic crises.

Source: Petroleumworld

Author: Ksenia Kochneva

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