French Minister Calls for Equal Treatment for Nuclear in EU Laws

(Bloomberg) -- Nuclear power must be treated on par with renewable sources in all European legislation as the bloc pursues plans to speed up its switch from fossil fuels toward cleaner electricity generation, French Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on Sunday.

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France has formed a large alliance to accelerate the development of nuclear power, Pannier-Runacher said, noting that 16 of the European Union’s 27 member states support the fuel, while Austria, Luxembourg and Germany don’t want to use it.

“If Germany manages to reduce its greenhouse gases with its energy choices, I think there’s no difficulty,” she told CNews television on Sunday. “However, where France is very clear, and where I’m very clear vis-a-vis other European countries, is that there needs to be technological neutrality in all European texts.”

“We must have the same type of legislation for nuclear and for renewable energies,” she said.

France’s efforts to ensure similar treatment for nuclear in the EU’s climate goals for industry, as well as opposition from some central and east European countries worried about green-transition costs, led to a delay in a key element of the bloc’s Green Deal package last week. France is in talks to reach a deal by the end of June.

Germany retired its last reactors last month, forcing it to secure its energy supply without nuclear power or natural gas from Russia, following its invasion of Ukraine. Berlin wants to phase out its coal-fired generation as soon as 2030. In France, the bulk of electricity comes from nuclear.

Pannier-Runacher said France had lowered its greenhouse emissions by 2.5% last year — thanks to nuclear, and especially due to reduced consumption — while its neighbor managed to cut emissions by 1.9%.

“Now it needs to accelerate,” she said, referring to Germany. “If it sticks to its trajectory to lower its greenhouse emissions, it’s part of the collective.”

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