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Directive hopes dim

While EU countries wrangle over details of the proposed renewable energy directive, Brussels officials are gloomy over the prospects of Europe's energy ministers adopting a common position on the regulation when they gather for December's energy council meeting.

Luc Werring, head of renewables at the European Commission's Energy and Transport Directorate, DG Tren, confirms that a "list of problems" is still being debated by member states' representatives. A major sticking point is the timetable for harmonising the various national support mechanisms for renewables in the member states. Italy has been pressing for some time for an immediate move towards Europe-wide harmonisation. Other countries-particularly the UK-are sympathetic, but are still faced with the opposition of member states who are fighting to hang on to their individual systems of renewables support for as long as possible, such as Germany and Spain.

A compromise now being considered is for a shorter breathing space than the five years proposed in the draft directive before the Commission finally decides on a harmonised support system. One of the options being looked at is for three years, but the trade-off would be a longer transition period of, say, seven years, during which support programs could continue in their present form.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament and Energy Council remain at odds over a number of issues, a key one being binding national renewables targets which the parliament favours but which are strongly resisted by the ministers of member states on the council. Speaking at a renewables conference in London, Werring reported that the controversy between the council and parliament made it unlikely that a common position could be reached at the Energy Council meeting next month.

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