March 16, 2016 / 12:35 PM / a year ago

Climate change, energy is back on EU summit agenda: draft

A woman walks past a map showing the elevation of the sea in the last 22 years during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 11, 2015.Stephane Mahe

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU leaders meeting in Brussels this week will debate the Paris Agreement on climate change, a draft EU text showed, after officials previously said the migrant crisis had knocked it off the agenda.

EU officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said European Council President Donald Tusk, who will chair the summit, had spent a week negotiating a compromise text that they believed the big member states would agree on.

The text, seen by Reuters, "underlines the need for the European Union and its member states to be able to ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible".

It also says the EU is committed to a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions domestically by at least 40 percent by 2030, as agreed at political level in October 2014.

The target has become controversial as some member states and environment campaigners have interpreted the agreement of a global deal in Paris as a reason to push for the EU to agree a more ambitious goal.

But EU officials say the European Commission is concerned that reopening the discussion on the 2030 target would derail a difficult debate this year on how to share out that goal among the 28 member states, including Poland, whose economy depends on coal.

Environment ministers, who met in Brussels earlier this month, said the EU was not doing enough to counter climate change. A letter voicing their concern was sent on their behalf to Tusk on Monday, EU officials said.

Segolene Royal, France's environment minister, said earlier this month that the Paris Agreement would be on the agenda of summit talks on Thursday and Friday, adding French President France Hollande would seek backing from fellow leaders.

But on Monday, three officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the need to focus on migration meant climate and energy would no longer be discussed, although they said France was maintaining pressure for the issue to be raised.

As host of the Paris talks, France has led the drive for Europe to maintain climate leadership ahead of a meeting in New York next month to formally open the Paris Agreement for signatures.

With climate, energy also re-enters the talks. The draft summit text urges law-makers "to proceed with work on the proposals to reinforce the EU energy security as a matter of priority".

Editing by Tom Heneghan

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