WARSAW Poland has assembled a blocking minority among the European Union members enabling them to stall Brussels' climate package, Polish officials said.
Poland and Greece reached an agreement late on Thursday, following a similar accord with Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, that more debate was needed on the EU's package of climate measures.
The European Commission -- EU's executive arm -- aims, among others, to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by a fifth by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Building up a blocking minority would now force it to seek a compromise on the plan.
"Poland's Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki signed in Greece an agreement referring to the climate package," Joanna Mackowiak of Nowicki's cabinet, told Reuters late on Thursday. "We have the blocking minority."
Under the EU's voting rules, some decisions may be blocked by a certain number of member states representing enough voting power.
The EC's proposal sets full auctioning of the CO2 emission permits as of 2013. The six states want to delay this, arguing their power plants will not have enough cash to compete with giants like the Germany's E.ON on the free-market auctions.
At present, industry gets some permits for free and companies have to buy additional ones only if they exceed their granted quotas.
"This minority refers only to the auctioning," a source responsible for the negotiations told Reuters on Friday, adding the EC would now try to lure particular countries away from the group.
"It's not the biggest success when you build up a blocking minority. It's when the minority sticks together to the very end."
(Editing by James Jukwey)