The Council recently adopted a common position on the proposal for a multiannual programme for the promotion of renewable energy sources in the Community (ALTENER II). The aim of the proposal is to continue and extend the ALTENER programme, which expired at the end of 1997. The ALTENER II programme would make an essential contribution to the increased use of environmentally friendly, renewable energy sources and form one of the main components of the EU's strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Council has agreed on a budget of ECU 22 million for the two years of the programme (1998 and 1999). The objectives of the programme include the creation of the necessary conditions for the implementation of a Community action plan for renewable energy sources and to encourage private and public investment in the production and use of energy from renewable sources. ALTENER II will be open to participation by Central and East European countries and Cyprus, in view of their eventual accession to the European Union. The common position will now be returned to the European Parliament for its second reading. MEPs are likely to increase the budget over that agreed by the Council, given that the Commission's initial proposal was for ECU 30 million over the two years.