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Franco-German friendship meeting overshadowed by nuclear divide

The Franco-German Parliamentary Assembly on Monday, where 50 French National Assembly members and 50 Bundestag members meet bi-annually to foster cooperation between the countries, was overshadowed by their divides on nuclear energy

By: EBR - Posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Nuclear power should not be classified as a renewable energy source, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said with an eye to the ongoing disagreement over the renewable energy directive. His counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, called nuclear energy a “red line” for France.
Nuclear power should not be classified as a renewable energy source, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said with an eye to the ongoing disagreement over the renewable energy directive. His counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, called nuclear energy a “red line” for France.

by Nick Alipour

The Franco-German Parliamentary Assembly on Monday, where 50 French National Assembly members and 50 Bundestag members meet bi-annually to foster cooperation between the countries, was overshadowed by their divides on nuclear energy.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Germany Economy Minister Robert Habeck took the floor before parliamentarians, indicating their views were far apart.

Nuclear power should not be classified as a renewable energy source, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said with an eye to the ongoing disagreement over the renewable energy directive. His counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, called nuclear energy a “red line” for France.

Regarding collaboration on energy policy, Germany and France were “marching on their own” Habeck summarised the mutual stance on the topic.

“It would be a complete misunderstanding if we were to assume that because we work intensively and confidently that this automatically means that there is always consensus. I would say it is exactly the opposite,” Habeck said during the plenary.

Last week, the French government caused much stir after it blocked the approval of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, which sets minimum levels for energy production from renewable sources.

The approval was widely regarded as a formal step, as negotiations between the EU parliament and the member states had already been concluded.

However, France seeks further guarantees that nuclear-generated, “low-carbon” hydrogen will be deducted from its renewable targets.

The German government considered nuclear energy separate from renewable energy and insisted on maintaining the compromise that had previously been agreed, Habeck said.

“Robert knows that nuclear policy is absolutely a red line for France,” Le Maire maintained, adding: “This is a matter of our [energy] sovereignty.”

Energy was a dominant theme during the session as MPs repeatedly highlighted the dissonances. Some criticised the ministers’ general lack of a collaborative spirit.

“I have now been listening for a while, and you have clarified the stance of Germany and France respectively, but you have not once named a joint German-French project,” Valerie Rabault, an MP for the French Socialists, observed.

Meanwhile, the EU Renewable Energy Directive’s prospects remain uncertain for now.

If and when a new attempt at passing the legislation can be scheduled depends on France.

*first published in: Euractiv.com

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