While the surge in energy prices in Europe is spreading at high speed, ten member states of the European Union, including France, are pleading in favor of nuclear power. They published a column on Sunday supporting this energy, stressing that it has a role to play against global warming.
Thus, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, and the Deputy Minister in charge of Industry, Agnès Pannier-Runacher signed this text which also highlights the fact that nuclear “contributes decisively to the independence of our sources of energy and electricity production”.
A text that divides the Twenty-Seven
This text was also signed by Romania, the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary. The signatories claim that nuclear energy “protects European consumers from price volatility”, while gas prices have been rising sharply for several months. In France, for example,Regulated prices have already jumped 57% since the start of the year, and are expected to rise again by 10% in November, then by 20% in December and “maybe still at the beginning of 2022 “.
Faced with this, the government has even put in place “tariff shield “which consists in blocking the regulated gas tariff until spring. Concretely, its level will no longer change until a drop in world prices expected in March or April. Nevertheless, this smoothing measure will not apply to all French households, and concerns non-affected suppliers.
Thus, faced with the problems currently encountered with energy, countries consider “absolutely essential that nuclear energy be included in the framework of European taxonomy before the end of this year”, that is to say in the list of energies considered as virtuous both for the climate and the environment that the Commission must propose in the coming months. This classification will open access to green finance and give a competitive advantage to recognized sectors.
This forum therefore takes place in a context of rising energy prices but also of intense lobbying from pro-nuclear countries for this classification. The integration, or not, of this source of energy in this classification has been shaking up the political and industrial spheres for several weeks.
It is because the subject of nuclear power divides the Twenty-Seven. If France, Poland and the Czech Republic defend the atom, countries like Germany and Austria are fiercely opposed to it, like many NGOs who see it as a risky technology. But the signatories of the forum develop another argument: the nuclear industry could “generate nearly a million highly qualified jobs in Europe”, according to them.
For France, this forum is an opportunity to highlight its choice to bet on nuclear power, subject to many debates, the day before Emmanuel Macron’s unveiling of the investment plan of several tens of billions of euros “France 2030 “, where this industry should feature prominently. The Head of State should indeed support on this occasion the financing of small nuclear reactors – SMRs (“Small Modular Reactors”) – to support existing plants.