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EU Leaders Agree on Energy Plan Aimed at Curbing Global Warming

European Union leaders agreed a full package of binding measures on Friday to build a common energy policy and fight climate change. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who chaired the meeting, expressed her satisfaction with the outcome of the European summit. Sabina Castelfranco reports for VOA from Brussels.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, wrapping up the two-day European summit, said the deal to tackle climate change and energy needs has "ambitious and credible" targets.

Ms. Merkel said the 27-nation bloc has reached a deal, which opens the door to a whole new dimension of European cooperation for years to come in the area of energy and combating climate change.

The deal commits Europe to take the lead in fighting global warming by setting binding targets to cut greenhouse gases, develop renewable energy sources, promote energy efficiency and use bio-fuels.

Leaders agreed that greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by at least 20 percent by 2020. They offered to go to 30 percent, if major energy consumer nations, such as the United States, Russia, China and India, follow suit.

They also agreed to a target of 20 percent of EU power coming from renewable sources. The current figure for renewable sources is just over six percent.

A 10 percent minimum target for bio-fuels in transport would also be introduced by 2020 in a cost efficient way.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the deal the most ambitious package ever agreed by any commission or any group of countries on energy security and climate protection.

He explained that although national targets would be set with the consent of member states, this was not something to worry about.

"We have an overall target. But, of course, there will be different situations in national different circumstances," he said. "But it is, by the way, much more integrated than for instance the system that you have today in the United States that is one single country, and it has not committed one single target for the country as a whole."

"So, I really believe that this is the best way to address the situation. We cannot, and we should not - it would be a complete mistake - to have the same target for all the 27 countries, because they are different situations," he added.

German chancellor Merkel intends to present the new EU plans to a June summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations. The outcome of the summit is expected to form the basis of the EU's position in international talks to find a replacement to the U.N. Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.