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A new initiative to "consolidate the position of renewable energies in Joule" was announced last month by Edith Cresson, the EC's energy commissioner. She further added that her objective would be to ensure that renewables received 58.6% of the Joule budget for 1994-1998. This was the share agreed by the EU's member countries and the European Parliament when deciding the non nuclear budget under the Fourth Framework Programme. Aside from renewables, fossil fuel technologies are also eligible for Joule funding, as are projects for the rational use of energy. Cresson chose to make her pledge while in northern France, on a tour hosted by Marie Blandin, head of the Agence Regionale de l'Energie (ARE). For 15 years, ARE has been a shining French example of how to implement energy saving and exploit renewable energy sources, including funding an FRF 5 million wind R&D programme.

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