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Following Germany's example, Luxembourg and Austria have reaffirmed their fierce opposition to the inclusion of nuclear power in the EU's green energy label, hoping to be joined by Berlin in taking the Commission's plan to court if necessary.
Including nuclear power would send the wrong signal, as it is not economical and it is not a transition energy either, it takes too long, says Carole Dieschbourg, Luxembourg's environment minister, on the sidelines of a meeting in Amiens with her European counterparts.
Meeting since Thursday, the ministers of the 27 Member States are discussing the project unveiled at the end of December by the European Commission, which classifies investments in nuclear and gas power stations as 'sustainable' to facilitate the financing of activities that contribute to reducing greenhouse gases. Member states have until Friday to request changes before the final text is published.
From safety risks to uncertain waste management, there are legal reasons (to oppose the inclusion of nuclear). It would be greenwashing. We would welcome German participation in the legal action being considered by Luxembourg and Austria, Dieschbourg added.
To include the atom is not acceptable to us, it would affect the credibility of the taxonomy. It would be misleading to call energies 'sustainable' if they are not, if they are not safe, if they have not solved the problems of the past, if they are too expensive and too slow to counteract climate change, added Austrian Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler.
When asked by AFP, she reaffirmed Austria's willingness to take legal action alongside Luxembourg if the Commission continues along this path, recalling that the discussion is intense in many countries.
German State Secretary for the Economy and Climate Sven Giegold reacted cautiously, explaining they are working on their response to the draft, and then the Commission will present a new text, which we will analyse legally, he stressed. Berlin, however, considers nuclear power neither sustainable nor economical and is opposed to its inclusion.
After analysing the states' comments, the Commission must publish its final text on the taxonomy quickly, which will be considered definitively adopted four months later, unless it is rejected by a simple majority in the European Parliament or by a qualified majority of 20 states.
This threshold currently seems out of reach: a dozen states support the inclusion of the atom, including France, which is facing a wall of investment to revive its nuclear industry, a stable and decarbonised energy source, alongside intermittent renewable energies.
Central European countries such as Poland, which need to replace their polluting coal-fired power plants with gas-fired ones, also support the text.