BRUSSELS (AP) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday that most other European Union governments would back a border tax that would add charges to imports from countries with lower environmental standards, such as China.
European businesses say a tax could help steel, chemical and other major polluters cope with cheaper imports in the event that increased EU regulation forces them to pay more to release large amounts of greenhouse gas.
"I'm sure there would be a big majority to demand the end of Europe's naivety," Sarkozy told reporters after a summit of EU leaders. "The question of changing the border mechanism is making progress."
He said Europe didn't need "a tax on all products from all countries," but should focus on products like steel where European producers are faced with high costs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Can we impose environmental standards on EU steel-makers and at the same time import from China steel that would be produced without environmental specification?" he asked. "It would mean we accept production of all steel products shifting to China, or India or another country."
"In terms of unemployment, Europe would be penalized. We have to realize that," he said.
Other European nations have so far avoided threatening an environmental tax on imports as they push for a global deal to limit climate change.