An important political and symbolic victory for a sector in full renewal. The European Parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of including nuclear power among the green technologies to be supported to ensure Europe's competitiveness and sovereignty in the face of China and the United States. The text, which draws up a list of “zero” greenhouse gas emission technologies, constitutes the position of MEPs on a draft regulation aimed at defending the production of these carbon-free sectors in the EU. It sets the objective for 2030 of producing on European soil 40% of the Union's needs in these markets, also coveted by China and the United States which have put in place their own support measures.
The European Union essentially plans to grant regulatory relaxations to the sectors concerned. In substance, the text is not crucial for the nuclear industry, largely regulated at national level, but it marks an important political and symbolic victory. “I am delighted that we have been able to integrate nuclear on the same level as renewable energy in net zero technologies. All these sources of energy production are essential to the decarbonization of our economy,” responded MEP Christophe Grudler (Renew, centrist).
The proposal will be further negotiated with Member States. The latter must adopt their own position soon and could also advocate for the inclusion of nuclear power among the key sectors of the energy transition, alongside solar panels, wind turbines, batteries or heat pumps... This is for the EU to provide regulatory support to these industries to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, but also to build its energy sovereignty.
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The initial draft “regulation for an industry with zero emissions” of greenhouse gases, presented on March 16, already cited nuclear power among the means of decarbonizing the economy, which constituted a first victory for France and a dozen other EU countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden and Poland, which are banking on this technology. But, in practice, only future 4th generation reactors and small modular reactors also under development were concerned. In addition, most of the aid was reserved for a restricted list of so-called “strategic” sectors, from which nuclear power remained excluded.
MEPs left it up to Member States to choose the “zero emission” technologies they wish to promote from an expanded list. The plan provides in particular for a simplification and acceleration of procedures and the granting of permits for industrial establishments, as well as financing facilities. It innovates by adding environmental criteria to public calls for tender, a provision which could benefit European suppliers whose prices are sometimes higher.