The European Commission will have to decide if nuclear is a “green” energy

Meeting in Brussels on October 21 and 22, the European heads of state and government urged the Commission to decide, by the end of November, on the fate of nuclear and gas in the taxonomy, this classification economic activities according to their CO emissions2 and their consequences on the environment. The decision of the community executive to consider – or not – that the atom is a “green” energy and the gas a transitional energy (under certain conditions) will depend on the capacity of these two sectors to finance their future investments.

Soaring energy prices have given arguments to Paris, which continues to remind people of the merits of nuclear power: cheap, zero carbon and stable energy. And is campaigning for him to obtain the green stamp from the Commission, despite the waste issue, which is still unresolved and which weighs on the environment. In this fight, France can count on the support of countries attached to nuclear power. But not only. An alliance of circumstance has been forged between the supporters of the atom and those of gas, which, like Poland, need this energy to get out of coal.

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Today, Romania, the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary have lined up behind the Paris arguments. The Netherlands, Estonia, Ireland and Greece are on track to do so. There remain Austria and Luxembourg, viscerally anti-nuclear. And especially Germany. In strictly legal matters, these three countries cannot oppose the Commission, if it decides that nuclear power is clean energy – for that, a qualified majority is needed.

Politically complicated

But, politically, it remains complicated for the German Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the Commission, to go against Berlin. Especially since several of its commissioners, foremost among them Vice-President Frans Timmermans, are openly hostile to the atom. “In a way, it’s easier for the Commission to get past the opposition from Germany today. The next government, with the Greens in the coalition, will be even more opposed to nuclear power than the current one ”, analyzes a diplomat.

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In addition, Europeans cannot sweep the question so easily, since other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States or China, are also working on the development of their taxonomy and they are counting impose their standards. In this struggle for influence, the prospect of seeing Vienna or Luxembourg take legal action against the European ranking, if nuclear power were to be considered as green energy, is not likely to reassure investors, who are attached to legal stability.

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The European Commission will have to decide if nuclear is a “green” energy