BRUSSELS, Jan 20 (Reuters) - The European Union is about to embark on a major new project to support the growth of electric cars, Spain's prime minister said on Wednesday in his role at the helm of the European Union.
"The other day I met together with a group of companies -- some of the most important in Europe -- and it was felt it was fundamental that there should be cooperation and integration of efforts in developing the electric vehicle," Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said.
The project will be launched at a meeting of EU industry ministers in the Spanish city of San Sebastian on Feb. 8.
"If our markets don't have a regulatory framework to provide financial support, and if we don't have common standards on the technologies, then it will be difficult for Europe to take a leading role," Zapatero said.
"In the meantime, we see that China and Japan are developing fast on electric vehicles," he added. "They're working very hard on batteries."
European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said his experts were already working on draft rules to support the project.