Slovakia says EU's proposed climate goals unacceptable-PM quoted

PRAGUE, March 3 Mon Mar 3, 2014 8:20am EST

PRAGUE, March 3 (Reuters) - Slovakia cannot agree with the European Commission's proposed climate and energy goals that target a 40 percent cut in carbon emissions reductions and increased use of renewable power, Prime Minister Robert Fico was quoted as saying on Monday.

The European Union will debate its 2030 goals at summits in March and June, ahead of formal legislative proposals expected early next year.

Fico said Europe could not be the world's leader in climate protection at the cost of losing competitiveness with other parts of the world.

"We cannot, for example, agree with the Commission's goal of a 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gases. We cannot agree that a set specific amount of electricity energy should be produced from renewable sources," Slovak news agency TASR quoted Fico as saying.

"We maintain that a market with so-called free emission allowances must exist."

He added that other countries, including members of central Europe's Visegrad group, were discussing a common stance.

Fico made the comments after meeting the head of U.S. Steel Kosice, one of Slovakia's biggest heavy industry firms and its largest private employer, providing some 11,000 jobs.

The Slovak government agreed last year to support its operations to avoid the firm's departure.

The EU's executive arm proposed in January less stringent climate goals because of tougher economic conditions in Europe in the wake of a global economic crisis and euro zone debt crisis.

The current goal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 to a volume that is 40 percent lower than 1990 levels, a doubling of the existing 2020 target.

The Commission is also recommending an EU-wide goal of "at least 27 percent" renewables, a higher level but without the hard and fast national targets currently in force.