The commission said Wednesday it was proposing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 percent from their 1990 benchmark by 2030, an increase from the 20 percent target envisioned for 2020 for members of the European Union.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement economic development should take climate action into account.
"An ambitious 40 percent greenhouse reduction target for 2030 is the most cost-effective milestone in our path towards a low-carbon economy," he said.
Targets announced Wednesday set a goal of increasing the share of renewable energy to 27 percent by 2030. The commission said a "more market-orientated approach" will help drive renewable energy targets.
"However, it would not be translated into national targets through EU legislation, thus leaving flexibility for member states to transform the energy system in a way that is adapted to national preferences and circumstances," the commission stated.
Connie Hedegaard, European commissioner for climate action, said the targets outlined Wednesday show Europe is leading the way on climate issues.
"The details of the framework will now have to be agreed, but the direction for Europe has been set," she said. "If all other regions were equally ambitious about tackling climate change, the world would be in significantly better shape."