Eleven EU member states vow to strengthen nuclear power

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Eleven EU member states vowed on Tuesday to “strengthen cooperation” on nuclear energy, which they said would help Europe move away from carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia agreed “to support new projects” alongside existing nuclear plants, according to a statement released during a meeting of EU energy ministers in Stockholm.

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“Nuclear energy is one of many tools for achieving our climate targets,” to produce electricity to meet consumer demand and “for security of supply,” they said.

Ministers from the 11 countries also considered the opportunities for further scientific cooperation on nuclear energy and to share best practices to address safety issues.

France – which has long relied on atomic power – has spearheaded the effort to build closer European nuclear energy ties.

Before the ministers’ meeting, the office of Ecological Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said France’s aim was to “create a nuclear alliance.”

Paris believes nuclear power can help the country and Europe achieve its climate objectives, especially to produce “green” hydrogen for transport and industry.

But the issue has divided Europe and several EU states are fiercely opposed, with Germany and Spain leading the criticism.

Austria, Germany and Luxembourg reaffirmed their opposition in Stockholm to the development of nuclear energy in Europe.

“If we want to win the race against climate change, we need to be fast,” Luxembourg Energy Minister Claude Turmes said on Monday, adding that new nuclear stations would take 15 years to build.

“It’s much more about ideology than being practical,” he added.

The EU is currently discussing reform of the electricity market which has also split the bloc.

France recommends long-term energy contracts at guaranteed prices that would benefit nuclear production but Germany is vehemently against such a move.

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