EU leaders agree to energy co-operation

EU leaders have agreed to work together to enhance energy security while stopping short of proposing any detailed solutions.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said ministers attending a summit in Brussels had pledged support for a common energy policy.

But sharp divisions remain over how far energy markets should be liberalised and what kind of regulation is needed.

It was feared the two-day meeting would be overshadowed by a protectionism row.

EU members are split over how far governments should be allowed to protect businesses in key sectors of the economy, such as energy, from foreign takeover.

France and Italy have clashed over a deal to merge two French energy firms, which critics say thwarts competition.

EU leaders signalled broad agreement over the need to enhance energy security, an issue highlighted by Russia's dispute with Ukraine over gas supplies earlier this year.

Russia temporarily cut off supplies to its neighbour in a price dispute, threatening distribution to much of western Europe.

"I am very delighted that the European Council is backing our call for an energy policy for Europe, that it makes sense to have a common strategy for Europe," Mr Barroso said.

"We need to use the power of our market to tackle energy challenges."

But there was no immediate indication of how the EU's 25 members planned to tackle specific problems such as soaring gas prices, the EU's reliance on oil and gas imports and moves to boost clean energy supplies.

Disagreement surfaced over how much liberalisation is needed and whether there should be a single energy regulator for the EU, reports BBC news.


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