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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 01:50 GMT
Barroso bashed over gas guzzler
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
Mr Barroso says his role is to set EU-wide energy targets
The president of the European Commission has defended himself from criticism over his choice of a petrol-guzzling family car.

Jose Manuel Barroso's four-wheel drive emits far more carbon dioxide than the EU's own targets for vehicles.

But Mr Barroso says comments about his environmentally damaging car smack of "overzealous moralism".

The row comes as EU leaders are meeting to discuss carbon emissions targets at a major summit in Brussels.

'Private choices'

Mr Barroso is in favour of tougher curbs on carbon emissions as part of Europe's efforts to combat global warming.

But he has defended his choice of a Volkswagen Toureg, a model that emits around 350 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre driven.

The amount is well above the 130 grams per kilometre target set for all cars on Europe's roads by 2012.

"Look, I don't comment on private choices, the choices of your family or my family," Mr Barroso told the BBC's Joe Lynam.

"Our duty is to set targets and translate them into legislation. I don't think this climate of over-zealous moralism on the environment helps us."

Correspondents say Mr Barroso is not alone in making personal choices that jar with public policy.

Most commissioners, he says, drive cars that pollute at above-average levels with German-built high-tech BMWs or Mercedes being the favoured models.

British Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, however, has opted for a fuel-thirsty Jaguar.


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