December 12, 2019 / 11:50 AM / a month ago

Highlights: EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss climate, budget, Brexit

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for talk on climate, the EU’s long-term budget, Brexit, the euro zone and Russia sanctions, among others.

European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Here are comments made by them on Thursday ahead of the summit.


“Germany has already pledged to be climate neutral by 2050. We will discuss today whether all EU countries will do the same. I hope we can achieve this. It would be a strong signal that Europe is really the continent that is climate-neutral in 2050, but we must wait for the discussion.”


“For those countries that have to get out of an all-coal mix, it’s clear they can’t shift toward an all-renewable mix overnight.”

“They’ll have to have in their mix a share of nuclear energy if they want... Other countries are very anti-nuclear... Austria doesn’t want nuclear to be mentioned. Luxembourg doesn’t either. Germany is reluctant too. There are different political sensitivities.”

“I think we can do it. That the way I see things. We just need to find the right mechanisms, be trustworthy, allow visibility, but we can do it.”


“I hope that the (EU) member countries give this European Green Deal strong support.”

“Global warming is written clearly in our agenda because, if we do nothing, then the extreme weather events will increase, the floods, drought in Africa... That would be really expensive. I am convinced that it is in our own interests to end this damaging climate change in a positive agenda.”


“The ambitious climate goals that we have to take - the new generations are expecting us to act and we have to fulfill the expectations of the people.”

“I’m worried about this climate issue. We have to do more, we have to do it faster. It’s about the future of our children.”

“I am very much looking forward that we would find a common goal today.”


“The goal is that the multi-annual financial framework could be agreed on by February. Finland has made its own proposal and in my opinion it’s well balanced. It’s in between what the Commission and the Parliament and the net payer countries have wanted. I believe it’s quite close to the compromise that will be reached, hopefully as soon as in February.”


“One must note that the cost of the energy transformation in Poland is much higher than in other countries... like France, which developed nuclear energy and thanks to that it today has a very low-emissions energy system.”

“We, of course, have to take into account all the economic and social costs for Poland.”

“We will also underline the consumption aspect, which shows that some countries boasting low emissions per capita do not explain that they import a lot of goods from outside the EU, leading to a high consumption per capita.”

“We stress the argument of a just energy transition and that the pace of reaching neutrality must be linked to the stage of economic development.”

“We cannot agree to a model of economic transformation that would hurt the Polish society.”


“Climate change is the number one priority for this afternoon’s meeting. I hope we will have an agreement. Climate neutrality is a very important goal.”


“We have to discuss about the level of ambition for the next European budget. We have also discuss about the right balance between the classical policies like cohesion and agriculture, and new policies like migration, climate and innovation.”

“We have also to discus this proposal of own resources.”


“I always show respect for the choice of the voters. We will wait and we will see what will be the outcome of this election.”


“Some people want to pay less, some people want to get more, others to do new things. I wasn’t the best at mathematics but this, I think, is not going to add up.”


“Each country is free to choose its own energy mix but for it to be financed with citizens’ money - no, I am not in favor. We agree to a fund to see how we can help but to say we’ll finance it with citizens money, I am not in favor.”

“Either we understand we are in self-destruction mode and we want to sound alarm and realize we must do something, or we don’t care, we do the ostrich politics, we don’t care.”

“I don’t need to hear the Greenpeace message to know that we need to do something.”


“Get the majority in the House of Commons and be able to fulfill the agreement we decided on both sides.”


“Austria’s position is clear. No nuclear energy. We support climate neutrality in 2050, but without nuclear energy, which is not safe and not sustainable.”


“We are with net contributors - Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden that a target of 1% (of GNI) should and is enough.”


“We are facing negotiations, or rather a battle. It is among our plans to take a joint stand to make the European economy carbon neutral by 2050. That is a huge undertaking. We all know that climate change is a big problem, and we all know that fighting against it is a huge undertaking, which costs an enormous amount of money.”

“The Hungarian government is also determined to make the European economy climate neutral by 2050, so we are ready to sign an agreement to that effect.

“We cannot allow Brussels bureaucrats to have poor people and poor countries to pay the costs of the fight against climate change. We must receive clear financial guarantees and we will negotiate the terms of that.”

“A related side issue is the future of nuclear energy. We would like all reservations about nuclear energy here in Brussels to be set aside once and for all... Clearly there is no carbon neutral European economy without nuclear power.”


“Ireland will be strongly supporting... the Green New Deal.”

“It’s not about apocalypse, it’s about green growth.”

“We very much want a part of that (the Just Transition Fund). We would put our midlands and our peatlands there as well.”


“I just hope the results (of UK general election on Thursday) are decisive.”


“For me it is important to have certainty that nobody will stop us in the construction of nuclear power units. Simply we have to have electricity for people, for firms, and heating. And that is the priority and I will see. I don’t rule out anything.”

“Nuclear energy is clean energy, without any emissions. And I don’t know why a lot of countries have a problem with this.”

“I don’t understand this approach, mainly from Austria.”

“If we really want to reach carbon neutrality, we have to understand that each member states has a different energy mix.”

“Reaching carbon neutrality for the Czech Republic will be about 30-40 billion euro.”

“How will we force China and Russia and India to reduce emissions? This is a question.”


“It would be really bad if we didn’t reach an agreement on 2050 target.”


“It is very important that we as the EU move effectively, steps for reaching climate neutrality. I hope we agree upon text.”

“If we want to attain this goal, its very important that we provide the investment to attain this goal. It’s very important to say ‘Yes, we need these climate goals’ but it’s just as important to say we need those investments.”

“You cannot attain these goals without investments, we need to invest in our goals.”


“To achieve climate neutrality in 2050, it costs money. According to our calculations, it will cost about two-thirds of our GDP until 2050.”

“Fair conditions and access to financial resources and financial instruments will make this process transparent and all the countries will keep their competitiveness.”

“Otherwise, it will be very difficult to be competitive, spend money on green economy while third countries don’t do this.”


“We are not happy with the proposal of Finland. First of all, the financial volume is too small in order to achieve those ambitious goals... The Just Transition Fund is financed at the expense of cohesion funds, which is extremely important for such countries like Lithuania, Baltic countries, east of Europe, because we are in the process of converging.”

“We are still lagging behind... we need faster growth.”


“We have several conditions, one of the main ones is to have clearly declared technology neutrality so that each country can decide about their energy mix.”

“Slovakia will join with the majority of European countries because I think the European Union must be the leader and manage to convince other states like China or India to join us.”


“Estonia is supporting the EU goal of climate neutrality by 2050. It is so important for us, it is so important for Europe and of course for the world. Of the difficulties, the main aspects are energy, transport and agriculture.”


“We support the Green Deal... Clearly, we will fight for funds, for example the Just Transition Fund.”

Slideshow (13 Images)


“It is very good what was presented yesterday, a Green New Deal at EU level to mobilize resources and convert to green energies.”

Compiled by Gabriela Baczynska, Marine Strauss, Jonas Ekblom, Philip Blenkinsop, Jason Hovet, Marton Dunai, Jan Strupczewski, Michel Rose

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