At the European Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday, EU leaders discussed the goal of achieving climate neutrality in the EU by 2050 — meaning that the EU would not emit more greenhouse gases than it captures — and expressed their readiness to commit to it.
Only one EU member state needs more time to join the target, due to which the Council will discuss the issue again next June, according to a government press release.
The goal of EU climate neutrality is important to Estonia and has been approved by the government. According to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre), member states understand the importance of the objective as well as the need to achieve it together.
"Obviously, setting goals is not enough — we also need to know ho and what we are doing to achieve climate neutrality," Ratas said. "Countries also have different starting positions, but we have a common goal we are all striving toward. The transition must be fair and take these specific aspects into account."
The prime minister added that every country must decide for themselves how to reach this target and what technologies to use, while naturally also ensuring energy security.
The Council considered it important to support the achievement of climate neutrality with a framework which would take member states' current situations into account and help ensure a cost-effective, fair and socially balanced transition to the new economic model.
According to Ratas, these steps will require significant public and private sector investments. "The next long-term budget must contribute to the achievement of climate goals, and it is therefore important that its overall volume does not decrease compared with the current period," he said.
The prime minister stressed the importance of the forthcoming fair transition mechanism proposal by the European Commission, which should act as support for the Estonian oil shale sector. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has pledged to support investments in climate action and environmental sustainability with €1 trillion over the 2021-2030 period.
The heads of state also addressed the EU's long-term budget and stressed the importance of actively continuing negotiations under the leadership of Charles Michel, the new president of the European Council.
Measures against Russia extended for six months
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel provided EU leaders with an overview of the Normandy summit that took place in Paris on December 9. As Russia fails to comply with the Minsk agreements, the Council decided on Thursday to extend restrictive measures against Russia for the next six months.
EU leaders also discussed cooperation between the EU and Africa, and are planning a strategic debate next June regarding relation between the union and Africa, as well as its next summit with the African Union.
The Council expressed its support for a rule-based world order as well as its concerns over the suspension of the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Editor: Aili Vahtla