EU member states divided on Nuclear energy support

European Union member states showcased their differing stances on nuclear energy policy on Monday, with France leading one faction advocating for the technology, while Austria and Germany spearheaded another group advocating for prioritizing renewable energy sources.

The discord among the 27 nations regarding nuclear energy has increasingly disrupted EU policymaking over the past year, resulting in delays as countries debated whether to endorse atomic power to meet CO2 emissions targets.

Ahead of a meeting of EU countries’ energy ministers on Monday, two opposing groups of ministers convened to strategize on supporting their preferred energy technologies.

A coalition of 13 pro-nuclear EU countries, spearheaded by France, called for stronger EU policies on nuclear energy. They emphasized the recent breakthroughs with Brussels to acknowledge the significance of nuclear power in the energy mix and urged for the translation of this momentum into tangible projects and funding.

“This momentum must now be converted into a comprehensive and enabling European framework for nuclear development, exploring essential policies dimensions including financing,” the group stated jointly.

The signatories included Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden. Italy participated in the pro-nuclear meeting but refrained from signing the statement.

Conversely, Austria and Germany led a coalition of 13 countries in calling on Brussels to prioritize renewable energy. While not explicitly mentioning nuclear energy, the statement aimed to underscore investments in renewable energy and power grids over atomic energy.

“Funding should focus on cost-efficient technologies where common targets exist,” the statement emphasized.

While the EU has common targets for expanding renewable energy, there are no shared targets for nuclear energy.

The statement garnered signatures from Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.

Cyprus, Lithuania, and Belgium – the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, a role typically involving abstaining from participating in such statements – refrained from signing either statement. Notably, the Netherlands signed both.

The division over nuclear energy mirrors broader schisms within the EU.

France, reliant on nuclear power for about 70% of its electricity, remains the technology’s primary advocate in Europe. Its allies include some economically challenged Eastern European countries with nuclear reactors or plans to build them as part of efforts to transition away from highly polluting coal.

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