French and German ministers say nuclear is a difficult subject


Steam rises from the cooling towers of the Electricité de France (EDF) nuclear power plant in Cruas, France on November 27, 2021. REUTERS / Eric Gaillard / File Photo

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PARIS, December 13 (Reuters) – French and German finance ministers, during new German finance minister Christian Lindner’s first visit to Paris, said discussions on the role of nuclear power in European markets in electricity would be difficult, even if they agreed on most of the other issues.

France, which will assume the rotating presidency of the European Union in January, wants to see nuclear power classified as sustainable energy in the new system of “taxonomy” of the European Union to define sustainable investment.

However, many EU countries have ditched nuclear power and want EU funds to support renewables such as solar and wind.

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“There is a long way to go … I think we will keep this question for the desert, once we have drunk together, and then we will find a compromise,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the journalists before a dinner. with Lindner Monday night.

The two ministers said that the governments of the two countries were broadly aligned with economic and fiscal policy as well as with the regulation of banking and financial markets.

Lindner, a member of the liberal FDP party, said nuclear was “a difficult debate”, and referred to “the German political context”.

The other two parties in the German governing coalition – the Greens and the Social Democrats – are less likely to agree with France’s demand to classify nuclear as sustainable energy.

Lindner said he was convinced that the talks between the French and German governments and the European Commission on the nuclear issue would lead to “a good solution for all parties”.

France produces around three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear power and the centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron is keen to keep the struggling French nuclear industry alive with contracts for new nuclear reactors.

Classifying nuclear, which has the advantage of creating huge volumes of electricity without generating carbon emissions, as sustainable would make it easier for the industry to find investors and financing. But opponents point to the risk of accidents and the problem of long-lived nuclear waste.

At a joint conference with the Hungarian prime minister in Budapest on Monday, Macron said nuclear energy would be at the heart of French energy and decarbonization policies.

(This story has been passed on to correct a typographical error in paragraph 6)

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Reporting by Geert De Clercq Editing by Chris Reese and Barbara Lewis

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