The leaders of seven European Union Member States, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, have written to the European Commission on the role of nuclear power in EU climate and energy policy.
In the letter dated 19 March 2021, they expressed their conviction that the European Union should not only recognise but also actively support all available zero and low-emission technologies that contribute to climate neutrality while supporting other energy policy objectives.
Furthermore, the leaders expressed concerns that EU policies are currently limiting the development of new nuclear plants, calling for “an appropriate framework for nuclear new build.” They emphasised that every Member State must be free to develop nuclear power or refrain from it in mutual respect and regardless of policy choices of other Member States.
“…The development of the nuclear sector in the EU is contested by a number of Member States despite its indispensable contribution to fighting climate change, as well as the breadth of yet unexploited synergies between the nuclear and renewable technologies. As low-emission baseload, it guarantees the continued renewable deployment to much higher penetration levels. Nuclear power seems to be also a very promising source of low-carbon hydrogen at an affordable price and can play an important role in energy sector integration. It also generates a considerable number of stable, quality jobs, which will be important in the post-COVID recession,” stated the leaders in the letter.
In principle, nuclear power is excluded from the EU’s green finance taxonomy which prevents technologies from receiving a green investment label if they undermine environmental objectives like pollution prevention. Herein lies the main reason for the letter, reasoning that nuclear power is in fact a viable clean energy option and individual countries must be free to develop as they see fit.
Signatories include; Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, French President Emmanuel Macron, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Slovak Prime Minister of Igor Matovič and Romanian Prime Minister Florin Cîțu.
According to news source Euractive, Germany and Austria are among the countries seeking to diminish their reliance on nuclear power, siting radioactive waste as the main deterrent. Countries in Eastern Europe however, are looking to boost nuclear power as they increase efforts to shift away from coal.