An alleged European Commission plan for nuclear power has set off an unforeseen chain reaction in Germany. Upon closer inspection, however, it appears to be nothing more than a waste of energy, says DW’s Bernd Riegert. German Federal Minister of the Environment Barbara Hendricks laid it on thick right out of the gate. She called the European Commission’s alleged ideas for the expansion of nuclear energy insane and irresponsible. Then German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel, who just happened to be in Brussels, enthusiastically belted out the same, wrong, note. He voiced his strict opposition to using European taxpayer money for the resuscitation of a dying technology and said he felt blind-sided by the EU proposal. Both ministers are on the wrong track, misinformed or breathlessly chasing after an article that gained much attention in Germany for a few hours ahead of its official presentation Wednesday. Nevertheless, one must refrain from joining in on the berating of Brussels, because, despite the fact that it probably plays well at home, the facts just don’t add up. The European Commission did not prepare a strategy paper as Germany’s “Spiegel Online” suggested, but rather it presented a discussion paper that is to be assessed by experts. The paper outlines possible research projects in the nuclear technology sector. It’s a sector that, despite Germany’s decision to phase out the use of nuclear energy, still represents an enormous global market. Not to mention that nuclear power plants are still being built in Europe. Whether the high cost of such power plants makes sense is a decision that operators and individual nations make – not the European Commission and not “Brussels.” The EU is not even responsible for energy policy, so the accusation that the Commission wants to build new nuclear reactors is simply wrong. It is fair to question whether EU taxpayer money should be used to promote a new type of reactors as the paper suggests. It is a point that will have to be discussed. And that is exactly what the supposedly explosive document was about, my artificially agitated German ministers – discussions not decisions.
Deutsche Welle 18th May 2016 read more »
S&D MEPs today (18 May) warned that it would be nonsense to put money from the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) into the nuclear energy sector. “Such a plan would be in breach with the spirit of EFSI. The Commission and the European Investment Bank need to honour what was agreed in the Regulation,” they reacted, in response to press reports.
EU Reporter 18th May 2016 read more »