EU leaders failed to agree on a financing proposal for developing countries after their two-day summit this week, leaving the EU’s negotiating position on the issue open-ended.

Matt & Kim Rudge @Flickr)

A Kenyan riverbed: developing countries are expected to bear the brunt of climate change because of their geography and their lack of capacity to adapt to change (Image: Matt & Kim Rudge @Flickr)

In a set of conclusions that were long on rhetorical concern about accelerating climate change but short on any new commitments for the EU, the European Council effectively endorsed the views set forth in the Commission communication on funding that I discussed a few weeks ago. This means that the 27 Member states have agreed a common view of the amount of funding required for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries – €100bn annually by 2020 – but not over how much of this should come from the EU and its members.

One of the reported reasons for the failure to reach an agreement is reported to be, as usual, down to differences between the richer and poorer members of the EU. A coalition of East European countries allegedly resisted specific commitments due to concern over their ability to afford the proposals. But the BBC also reported differences over negotiating strategy as a cause for the ambiguity of the Council’s position. Germany, it is suggested, believed that providing an explicit figure would provide less of an incentive for other developed countries to make similar commitments.

How much the EU is really willing to pay for climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, then, remains to be seen. But the failure of EU leaders to establish a common position underlines the political difficulty associated with large transfers of wealth to countries whose citizens don’t vote in European elections.

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