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EU Offers Billions To Climate Fund

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BRUSSELS – A senior EU official says the bloc has struck a deal to give up to euro50 billion ($74 billion) to help pay the costs developing nations face in adapting to and tackling climate change.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says the EU is ready to provide other financing to pay the euro100 billion ($148 billion) a year that the EU says poor nations will need by 2020.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said Europeans "now have a very strong negotiating position" to seek tight greenhouse gas emissions cuts at U.N. talks in Copenhagen in December.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BRUSSELS (AP) — Trying to forge a united stand on climate change, the 27-nation European Union considered a new proposal Friday that would let poorer eastern members pay less into a climate change aid fund than the bloc's leading countries.

Failure to agree on a figure now would leave the European Union without a firm promise of funding to tempt other nations — above all the world's two largest polluters China and the United States — into tight greenhouse gas emission cuts at United Nations talks in Copenhagen in December.

Poland was one of nine eastern EU members that doesn't share the ambitions of richer EU nations, such as Britain and Sweden, for a climate deal that would burden crisis-stretched budgets.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he didn't see any urgency as eastern EU nations sought concessions from the bloc's other leaders.

"We have time, Poland is in no hurry," he said Friday.

With less than six weeks until the Copenhagen talks begin, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said an EU deal was essential. He described a compromise offer under discussion Friday as "a breakthrough that takes us forward to Copenhagen and makes a Copenhagen agreement possible."

"Europe is making three conditional offers — money on the table, saying we will do everything we can to make a climate change agreement happen, and help for developing countries into that agreement," Brown said. "Now we want other countries to respond to what we're doing."

British officials say the EU would likely contribute up around 1 billion pounds ($1.64 billion) a year if a strong global deal is reached.

Germany was confident the 27 nations would emerge from the summit united.

"I am very optimistic that we will have good results and that we will come to good results together," Germany Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

After Thursday's deadlock, diplomats worked into the night to present a new draft that shields poorer member states better.

A united stand is necessary if the EU wants to live up to its self-proclaimed leadership on combating climate change.

The draft says developing nations would need annual help of euro100 billion ($148 billion) by 2020 and that Europe and other developed nations should contribute up to euro50 billion ($74 billion).

It also says extra global funding of some euro5 billion to euro7 billion a year should be given up to 2013 to kick-start efforts to curb emissions in poor nations.

It does not say how much of that will come from EU governments. Summit chairman Fredrik Reinfeldt, the prime minister of Sweden, said EU nations needed to take account of how badly many of them have been hit by the financial crisis.

The nine EU countries seeking concessions are Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungaria, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia and Lithuania.

Leaders are still grappling with mounting public debt they built up by rescuing banks and supporting their feeble economies. The draft said they were not ready to withdraw economy stimulus programs and would wait until a recovery is "fully secured."

The Copenhagen summit is seen as a watershed moment for fighting climate change and for global cooperation, and for years the EU has been seeking out the moral high ground, challenging other powers such as the United States and China to match Europe's commitment.

With the U.S. hamstrung by Congress, which has yet to approve U.S. emissions targets, poorer countries are looking to the EU to set the pace that they expect other industrialized countries to match.

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Associated Press writers Constant Brand, Raf Casert, Robert Wielaard and Barbara Schaeder contributed to this report.

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