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France’s Stance on Nuclear Power Delays EU Energy Agreement

France has taken the lead in a coalition of countries that are holding up the agreement on EU-wide targets for renewable energy. The move is driven by France’s pursuit of better treatment for its nuclear industry. As the realities of the green transition become more apparent, there is a growing pushback against the bloc’s climate agenda. This article examines France’s concerns and the potential consequences of delaying renewable energy targets.

France’s Nuclear Reliance:

France heavily relies on nuclear power for its electricity generation. Due to this dependence, the country has expressed reservations about supporting the renewable energy targets. The main contention lies in whether “low-carbon” hydrogen produced with electricity from atomic power plants should be included in the targets. France argues that nuclear-derived electricity should coexist with renewable electricity without discrimination.

Setback for EU Climate Law:

The vote on the renewable energy targets was unexpectedly withdrawn from the ambassadors’ meeting agenda following France’s decision not to support the text. This move mirrors Germany’s effort to secure exemptions for its car industry from a 2035 ban on combustion engines, which also challenged the EU’s climate law. Such last-minute changes by major EU countries could set a dangerous precedent and hinder the bloc’s path to achieving its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

Impact on Emissions Targets:

The renegotiation attempts by France and Germany have raised concerns about their potential impact on overall emissions targets. Other member states worry that this undermines the EU’s policymaking process. The European Commission, however, reiterates its commitment to rapid renewable energy deployment and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Divergent Perspectives:

Pro-nuclear countries such as the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Hungary have followed France’s lead and withheld support for the renewable energy targets. On the other hand, anti-nuclear governments like Germany and Austria strongly oppose recognizing nuclear power as a clean fuel. This divide underscores the ongoing debate over nuclear energy’s role in Europe’s energy mix.

Ministerial Meeting and Ongoing Discussions:

France recently convened a meeting of ministers from 14 countries with nuclear energy capacity, along with the EU’s energy commissioner. The aim of the meeting was to strengthen cooperation in the field of nuclear energy as part of Europe’s energy and climate ambition. Ongoing discussions are taking place, and a new vote on the renewable energy proposal has not yet been scheduled.

Implications for Sustainable Aviation Fuels:

The impasse between France and Germany over nuclear energy’s role has also affected the agenda on increasing the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels. The current stalemate jeopardizes the legislation aimed at promoting sustainable fuels and the decarbonization of Europe’s economy.


France’s stance on nuclear power and its withdrawal of support for renewable energy targets have caused delays in the EU’s energy agreement. The disagreement highlights the challenges faced by the bloc in balancing different energy sources and achieving its climate goals. Ongoing discussions and negotiations will determine the future direction of EU energy policy and its commitment to renewable energy sources.


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