Correspondent's Choice

This article about an EU carbon tariff was published on 1st March 2010.

EU ministers are set to give renewed consideration to French calls for a “carbon inclusion mechanism” in an attempt to curb unfair competition from countries like China, which have weaker climate protection laws. But opinion is still divided on the issue of carbon tariffs at the EU’s borders.

EU ministers in charge of competitiveness are meeting in Brussels today (1 March) to adopt conclusions on a “new industrial policy”.

“The discussion is expected to concentrate on key objectives for establishing the principles that should be included into a fresh and integrated approach to keep EU industry competitive,” reads a background statement prepared by the Spanish EU Presidency ahead of the meeting.

In the aftermath of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, EU ministers will debate ways of protecting industrial competitiveness from the risk of ‘carbon leakage’, meaning the relocation of factories, jobs and carbon dioxide emissions to countries with less stringent environment laws.

“We are underlining that carbon leakage is a major problem for industry,” said a diplomat from a large EU member state. “Above all, this is a major problem for the climate. And so we are repeating what we have said permanently – we have to protect ourselves from carbon leakage.”

A pet project of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, border tariffs aimed at restoring fair competition between European industries and major polluters such as China have gained little support from other EU leaders, with the exception of Germany’s Angela Merkel.

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