Ministers and high-level representatives of 16 countries convened in Paris with the EU Commissioner for Energy on 16 May to discuss avenues for cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.
Among these countries, also those Central and Eastern European ones that rely on nuclear energy for their electricity mixes, like Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.
As 2023 marks the 65th anniversary of the Euratom Treaty, the parties reasserted their commitment to the pursued strengthening of European cooperation in the field of nuclear energy as an important component of Europe’s energy and climate ambition. During this meeting, they emphasised on the key contribution of nuclear energy, as an addition to renewable energy, to decarbonise Europe’s energy production and collectively reach climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. They particularly stressed the fact that nuclear energy provides pilotable capacity and hence significantly secures Europe’s fossil-free electricity supply.
Thus, they are calling on the European Union and international partners to take into account the contribution of all affordable, reliable, fossil-free and safe energy sources to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
The Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela pointed out that nuclear energy will be a crucial part of the EU energy future. He defined the newly created nuclear alliance as a movement to end discrimination of nuclear energy, through which new and positive signals will be given to investors.
“Investments in new nuclear projects need to be recognised as sustainable,” he said. “Also, hydrogen from nuclear should be treated the same way as hydrogen from other low-carbon sources. […] A level playing field must be set in this regard.”
Ministers also discussed the positive impact of nuclear energy on the European economy: they acknowledged that nuclear power may provide up to 150 gigawatts (GW) of electricity capacity by 2050 to the European Union (vs roughly 100 GW today). This represents the equivalent of up to 30 to 45 new build large reactors and Small Modular Reactors (SMR) in the EU and such new projects would also ensure that the current share of 25 per cent of electricity production is maintained in the EU for nuclear energy.
In terms of impact on jobs and growth, the European nuclear sector expects to create in the EU, by 2050, 300,000 additional, new direct, indirect and induced jobs. The European nuclear sector expects an increase in nuclear industry contribution to GDP of an additional 92 billion euros (1.5 per cent – 2 per cent on the EU economy] and an additional 33 billion euros in trade surplus revenue in the EU, compared with maintaining a capacity of 100 GW by 2050, and including through substantially reduced fossil imports.
Ministers and high-level representatives agreed to work together on a road map to deepen their cooperation and trigger the involvement of the European Union in the field of nuclear energy, based on the following pillars: positioning of nuclear power in the European energy strategy; safety and waste management; industrialisation and sovereignty; skills; and innovation.