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11 Dec, 2008 06:13

Now what? EU debates crippled economy

A European Union summit is under way in Brussels as the trading zone faces its worst recession in decades. Leaders are discussing a multi-billion euro stimulus package as well as a range of measures to reduce global warming.

Heated debate is expected as politicians and officials grapple with a spending plan and a controversial climate change package.

The EU Commission is proposing splashing out €200 billion to kick-start Europe’s stalled economy.  Commissioners are urging member states to contribute €170 billion with the remaining €30 billion coming from the central budget. 

The plan is built around the twin fiscal planks of tax cuts and strict budget discipline.  

The EU proposal also includes putting €5 billion into energy and broadband projects and €4.5 billion into infrastructure projects.

However, not all countries are enthusiastic. Germany and Poland want unused funds from the EU's annual budget to be returned to national coffers rather than be spent on EU-wide projects.  

Another controversial proposal relates to climate change. The so-called «20-20-20» deal seeks to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, cut energy use by 20 per cent and bring renewable energy sources up to 20 per cent of total energy consumption.

However, not all members are keen on imposing extra “green” costs on industry during a recession. Some countries fear that the proposed steps to boost energy savings while cutting greenhouse emissions will see energy prices skyrocket.  They fear that will cause even more pain for their economies.