Macron humiliated as ‘dear friend’ Scholz rebuts French nuclear plans for EU

Dr David Lees: Macron to ‘reposition’ France as EU leader

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Berlin has confirmed that it intends to phase out all of its nuclear reactors by the end of next year. Three nuclear r reactors, with a combined capacity of about 4.25GW, are due to be decommissioned. It comes after Belgium decided to shut down its existing plants by 2025.

In the short term, the power will be substituted by fossil-fuel power plants and imports, but this should quickly be offset by the accelerated expansion of renewable energy sources.

It will no doubt feel like a dagger through the heart of Mr Macron, who hailed the new German chancellor as his “dear friend” just weeks ago.

Mr Macron said he had seen “a convergence of views, a desire to have our countries work together, and a firm and determined belief in Europe”.

But a contrast in views has been exposed just days later.

Unlike Germany, France is planning the construction of new nuclear plants and is pushing for nuclear energy to be included in the EU’s list of low-carbon technologies.

The country is heavily reliant on the source of energy.

However, French power supplier EDF recently announced that four nuclear reactors would have to stay offline as a result of emergency maintenance, which means the country’s electric power system would operate at reduced capacity until mid-January.

A surge in costs for natural gas, coupled with the outage in France, an electricity exporter, has recently pushed power prices across Europe to critical levels.

Mr Macron and Mr Scholz, both pro-EU centrists, are the duo in charge of Europe’s biggest economies that have the greatest influence inside the 27-member EU.

Mr Scholz, a Social Democrat, heads a new coalition whose commitment to strengthening Europe’s “strategic sovereignty” has raised hopes of progress in the fervently pro-EU French government.

He made Paris his first overseas stop after taking over on Wednesday from Angela Merkel at the end of her 16 years in power.

He said the talks focused on “making Europe strong and European sovereignty.”

But the energy crisis in the EU is threatening to deepen the cracks.

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The European Commission is expected to soon unveil the EU’s green taxonomy framework, a list of energy sources recognised as sustainable and eligible for state investment.

The list is expected to include nuclear power and also gas – a move that has sparked controversy.

Austria even went as far as threatening to take the Commission to the EU Court of Justice if they went ahead with including nuclear energy to the list.

It comes after the European Green Deal was announced in July 2020 and was made to help prevent “greenwashing” among different investments.

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