BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is nearing an agreement on a plan to revamp its ailing carbon market, the EU's energy chief Maros Sefcovic said on Wednesday.
"We are very close to agreement between the European Council and European Parliament on carbon market reform," Sefcovic, a vice-president in the European Commission, told a news conference in Brussels.
In an effort to bolster carbon prices and spur industry to switch to greener energy, the EU's executive European Commission has proposed a plan to remove hundreds of millions of surplus carbon permits from the EU Emissions Trading System from 2021.
However, some member states such as Britain and Germany, and some utilities, want action to begin earlier, in 2017.
Poland, dependent on carbon-heavy coal, and energy-intensive industry say the Commission proposal of 2021 is soon enough and the divisions between the two sides have been echoed in the European Parliament.
On Jan. 22, a pro-industry European Parliament committee failed to agree a date to reform the EU ETS, in the first of a series of votes in the coming weeks.
A source in the Parliament said the committee vote showed how split opinion is. The European Council of member states is also still divided, other sources said.
In the next step, the European Parliament environment committee will vote on the proposal on Feb. 24.
Benchmark EU carbon permits were trading at around 7.10 euros a tonne on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; writing by Nina Chestney in London; editing by Susan Thomas)