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A group of EU countries are fighting attempts by Poland to extend subsidies for coal plants, with Luxembourg’s energy minister describing the proposal as “astonishing”.

Luxembourg’s energy minister, Claude Turmes, said he could not believe the proposal, which was made on Friday, days before a planned summit of energy ministers from across the bloc, was even on the table given the EU’s commitment to combating the climate emergency.

“Friday, the Swedish presidency did something really astonishing which is weakening our climate policy by … reopening the possibility to subsidise coal power plants,” he told reporters before the summit in Luxembourg.

Some countries consider this a measure to help Poland, which uses coal to produce about 70% of its energy.

Poland is expected to soon surpass Germany as Europe’s top power polluter due to aggressive planned reductions in fossil fuel use across Germany, creating assumptions that Poland will have no choice but to remain Europe’s most coal-reliant nation for years to come.

So far this year, Poland has defied expectations by cutting coal use and pollution to the lowest level since at least 2014, and by raising clean power output to record highs just as Germany cut its clean generation by shutting nuclear reactors.

“We have a big bloc of countries that will reject the proposal of the Swedish presidency … so it’s a clear no,” Turmes said ahead of the summit on Monday.

Spain’s minister for ecological transition, Teresa Ribera, said some thought had to be given to Poland, which is heavily reliant on coal, while the French energy minister, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, said extending support to Poland was an “ambitious approach” – a hint Paris was more open towards the move than other member states like Germany.

“We need to take into account the reality of each country to ensure their capacity to provide energy to their people and to their industries,” she said.

Belgium sided with Luxembourg, describing such a move as “unacceptable”.

Tinne van der Straeten, the energy minister, said: “In Belgium we already have in our national legislation the obligation to become climate neutral and to have a steep decline in emission by 2030 and 2040. So [the proposal] is something that we cannot accept,” she told reporters.