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EU Claims Headway on Climate, Ebola

  • Lisa Bryant

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a media conference after an EU summit at the EU Council building in Brussels, on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a media conference after an EU summit at the EU Council building in Brussels, on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.

European leaders agreed Friday to a billion-dollar funding boost for the fight against Ebola in West Africa, as they wrapped up a summit marked by a key agreement over climate change and divisions on financial issues.

The new European Union assistance for the Ebola fight — 1 billion euros, or about $1.27 billion — amounts to a victory for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has been pushing the bloc to do more to respond to the deadly outbreak.

He told reporters he got what he wanted at the summit.

"In facing Ebola, we are facing one of the worst public health emergencies in a generation," he said.

"And I've been absolutely determined that Britain, with other countries, will lead the way in dealing with this," he added. "Dealing with this because there is a massive crisis in West Africa, and we should feel some moral obligation to help. But also dealing with it because it directly threatens our national interest and our people in the United Kingdom. And that is why we have taken such a leading role."

European Union leaders also appointed a coordinator of the EU's Ebola response, amid growing alarm at the virus' impact as Mali and New York reported their first confirmed cases.

Climate change

A highlight of the two-day summit was a landmark climate-change agreement. European Union president Herman Van Rompuy hailed the deal that the leaders reached after hours of negotiations and divisions.

'It was not easy - not at all - but we managed to reach a fair decision," he said. "It sets Europe on an ambitious yet cost-effective climate and energy path. Climate is one of the biggest challenges of mankind. Ultimately this is about survival. It is the example of a long-term policy."

Under the pact, EU leaders are committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent of their 1990s levels by 2030. They also agreed on 27-percent targets for cutting energy consumption and increasing the share of renewables in the overall energy mix.

But environmental groups have expressed disappointment in the deal, particularly since both renewable-energy and energy-efficiency targets for countries are non-binding.

The summit was also marked by sharp divisions over how to jumpstart sluggish economies of the 18-member eurozone. Cameron expressed fury at a demand for Britain to pay an extra $2.7 billion to the EU by December 1, because the British economy has been performing better than those of its European partners. He said the unexpected surcharge is completely unacceptable.

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