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Eight Member States urge EC to recognise significant role of nuclear in EU Energy Union

Feb 25, 2015

FORATOM welcomes the initiative of eight EU Energy Ministers (from Romania, France, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the UK) to send a letter to the European Commission (EC)’s Vice President for Energy Union, Maros Sefcovic, and the Climate and Energy Commissioner, Arias Canete, to urge them to take into account the important role of nuclear in the Communication on an “Energy Union” to be published on 25 February.

In the letter as reported by the nuclear news agency, NucNet, the Ministers recall nuclear power’s credentials in Europe in terms of security of supply, climate change mitigation and competitiveness and prompt the EC to include a package of initiatives in the Energy Union Communication in order “to develop a supportive EU framework for safe and sustainable new nuclear”. These initiatives should include “a clear and unequivocal recognition of the existing right (Art 1 Euratom treaty) of Member States that wish to do so to develop safe and sustainable new nuclear power”; and “new financing mechanisms for large infrastructure projects to be applied to nuclear projects, alongside other large-scale low-carbon energy projects”.

In addition, the eight Energy Ministers recommend that the EC develop clear State aid rules that would apply to nuclear taking into account “Commission State aid decisions on nuclear taken previously”. A new set of state aid guidelines is expected to be adopted in 2019. In October 2014, in its decision regarding the Hinkley Point C deal, the EC concluded that nuclear power suffers from a “market failure” more than other energy sources due to its “longer time horizon and greater investment size”.

The Ministers also suggest bringing forward as soon as possible the implementation of the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) reform “in order to have a well-functioning EU ETS” that can contribute to meeting EU’s climate goals and encourage investments in low-carbon technologies. They also request the EC to “set out a comprehensive package of research & innovation initiatives to help strengthen the skills, technology and nuclear safety and decommissioning capabilities within Europe.”

Nuclear power is a vital element of Europe’s energy mix. It provides 27% of Europe’s electricity and 53% of its carbon-free electricity. It is a competitive, reliable and base-load source of energy that will continue to make a major contribution to EU’s energy policy.

FORATOM published at the beginning of February its priorities for an EU Energy Union. Its position is in line with the eight Ministers’ view.

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