BUSINESS IN SHORT

Fico disagrees with EU goals

THE SLOVAK government cannot agree with a proposal of the European Commission on reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy sources, Prime Minister Robert Fico said after meeting with U.S. Steel Košice (USSK) President George Babcock on March 1.

THE SLOVAK government cannot agree with a proposal of the European Commission on reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy sources, Prime Minister Robert Fico said after meeting with U.S. Steel Košice (USSK) President George Babcock on March 1.

The strategy, proposing to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 40 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030 and to increase the share of the renewable energy resources to 27 percent of total energy production, will be discussed at the European Union’s session at the end of March.

“We cannot agree with the EC’s goal of a 40-percent reduction of greenhouse gases,” Fico said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “We cannot agree with setting an exact amount of electrical energy to be produced from renewable sources. The EC proposes 27 percent. We insist on having a market with emission quotas [that may be bought by] large companies, such as U.S. Steel, so that they would be able to compete in this difficult environment.”

Fico, now running for president, pointed out that one year ago the government fought to keep the American company in Slovakia. The parent company of the USSK announced in November 2012 that it was considering offers for the firm. One of the reasons cited for considering a sale was the increased fees paid to the operator of the national grid, the Slovak Electricity Transmission System.

The Slovak government immediately announced talks with the steelmaker that resulted in signing a memorandum of understanding in March 2013, promising to reduce the energy bills and guaranteeing change to some laws to allow the company to receive state support for reconstructing the boilers in its on-site power station.

“We did not expend such an effort a year ago to keep this important plant in Košice only to agree now to a document that would return us to the Ice Age, especially considering that the steel industry provided the basis for what is now the EU,” Fico said, as quoted by TASR.

The EU cannot be a leader in environmental protection and at the same time be last in terms of ability to compete with other regions outside the EU, he said.

“We have Ukraine 80 kilometres away from here, with completely different conditions,” Fico said, as quoted by TASR.

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