The European Council is expected to approve an October deadline to decide its 2030 climate change and energy policy, according to a leaked draft of the meeting's conclusion.

The package, detailed below, would include a replacement to the existing 20% renewable energy target for 2020. A 27% goal for the EU as a whole with no individual national objectives has been proposed.

Critics argue this would not incentivise any renewable energy generation over and above that triggered by the new 40% goal for greenhouse gas reductions by 2030, around which there is more consensus.

The European Council of member state governments is meeting for its debate on the framework in Brussels on 20-21 March.

Some member states argue that removing national targets allows them more flexibility to reduce emissions though other approaches such as carbon capture and storage, nuclear power and energy efficiency.

The 2030 package could also contain detail on moves to synchronise member states' renewable energy support policies.

A document containing the draft conclusions of the meeting calls for “a progressive evolution of support mechanisms for renewables to a more cost-effective and market-based system and more convergence of national support schemes beyond 2020”. 

The document also calls for countries to explore renewables “and other indigenous energy sources”.

“Efforts to reduce Europe's high gas energy dependency rates should be intensified, especially for the most dependent member states,” it says, highlighting an issue that has been brought to the fore in recent weeks by the instability in Ukraine.

A coalition of renewable energy industry groups has called on the European Council to return to nationally binding renewable energy targets to make the most of the opportunity it presents.

“A 2030 framework based on a truly ambitious and binding renewable energy target would deliver major savings, such as an additional €260 billion (US$358 billion) in avoided fossil fuel imports, and 568,000 more jobs, the discussion has been pre-formatted to only consider the least ambitious pathway,” said the group which includes the European Photovoltaics Industry Association (EPIA) and the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“The European renewable energy associations thus call on the Heads of States and Governments to fully reap the benefits of a more sustainable energy system and to agree on an ambitious nationally binding EU renewable energy target for 2030,” they said.

March 2014 EU Summit Draft