European Union leaders have agreed to stick to ambitious targets for tackling climate change, despite calls by eastern European countries for caution in light of the global economic crisis.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, expressed his commitment Wednesday to meeting an end-of-the-year deadline for agreeing on climate change plans.

Last year, the EU set goals to cut harmful emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020.

Eight eastern European countries have asked to ease the targets out of concern that the current policy could increase energy prices and harm their economic growth.

But supporters of the plan say a low-carbon economy will help reduce the bloc's exposure to volatile fuel prices.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels for a two-day summit.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has led the opposition, representing several ex-communist member-states who would like to see the policy revised. He said the EU should "respect the differences in member states' economic potential" in fixing goals to cut greenhouse gases.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.