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(dpa) - European Union leaders were set Friday to give a first backing to ambitious plans to fight climate change but squabble over how to protect their polluting industries against foreign competition.

"We are not questioning the (greenhouse gas emission) reductions, but if you have a common European goal, you can still talk about the way you want to hit it and what measures you want to inflict on which industries," Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the start of the second and final day of talks.

"European industry will adapt to the challenges, but we have to care that all the process will carry all interests," Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who chaired the meeting of the EU's 27 political leaders, said.

One year ago, EU leaders agreed legally-binding targets for the bloc to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas most linked with global warming.

On January 23 the union's executive, the European Commission, laid out legal proposals for how the union should hit its targets - in particular, by strengthening an existing system for trading permits to emit CO2 after 2012.

But European industries complained that any attempt to make them pay for the CO2 they emit would make it impossible for them to compete with firms in countries with less stringent environmental rules.

The commission promised to study the problem with an eye to proposing solutions in 2010 or 2011 - but only if talks aimed at reaching a global deal on fighting climate change failed to produce a result in 2009.

However, that proposal was not enough for heavily-industrialized states such as Germany.

"The discussion is about whether we should already say in 2009 how the (CO2 emissions) trading scheme will look after 2012, so that investors know what they're getting into, or whether we should only do so in 2010," Merkel said.

However, leaders were not expected to come to a decision on the crucial issue on Friday, with more debate expected ahead of the next summit in June.

Leaders also planned to discuss ways of reacting to the recent turmoil on the financial markets, including ways of increasing the transparency of sovereign wealth funds.

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