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European Union

Publié le February 27, 2008
Letter from M. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic, to M. Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, (excerpts)
Paris, January 11, 2008

President Barroso,

You sent all member States a working paper setting out the principles governing the climate action and renewable energy package due to be presented on 23 January. (…)

France is particularly committed to it being implemented in such a way that priority is given to tackling the climate challenge. (…)

As regards the global greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, France’s priority is still to promote a low-carbon energy package in order to tackle the climate challenge without needlessly hampering growth prospects. Today, France’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions are 25% below the European average.

Given that, I think it essential to set ourselves the goal of gradually moving towards the same volume of per capita CO2 emissions in every EU country. To achieve this, France would like the cut in global emissions expected from each member State by 2020 to depend on their per capita starting points, without prejudging the – separate – issue of solidarity mechanisms between States. (…)

Nevertheless, if important world economies do not commit to binding cuts in emissions, European restrictions will push industry to relocate to those countries which will be enjoying a less restrictive environment regime: global emissions will not decrease and the corresponding jobs will disappear from Europe. The system would not then be effective, fair, or economically defensible. Concurrent introduction of a compensation mechanism at borders for imports from countries refusing to make binding cuts thus appears essential, whether it take the form of a tax adjustment or an obligation for importers to buy quotas. The mechanism is in any case necessary to encourage those countries to join in such an effort.

Finally, as regards the target for renewable energy production, France has already pledged to develop substantially the proportion of her final energy consumption provided by renewables. She has adopted the European Union’s target of 20%, making it her national target for emissions cuts at the Grenelle Environment Forum, and will even strive to go further. Nevertheless, this national target is distinct from any binding cuts required under European commitments.

Given the small French contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, we could not accept a mandatory national target higher than 20%, where failure to comply would give rise to financial penalties or buying in renewable energy certificates. In accordance with the European Council conclusions of March 2007, the mechanism must take account of the various member States’ starting points and the global share of the no-carbon energy sources in each State’s energy package in order to determine both its national objective and the penalties in the event of its failure to achieve this.

France wholeheartedly supports the Commission’s ambition for sustainable development. Priority must be given to the climate challenge without renouncing the ambition of development, with a twin concern for fairness and effectiveness. (…)./.

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