Ten nations petition Brussels for nuclear

04 July 2014

The Czech government has expressed the common view of ten European countries in favour of nuclear power in a letter to the European Commission.

Citing market failures that prevent new nuclear build from supporting European goals for energy security, sustainability and emissions reductions, the letter demands a level playing field for all low-emission sources in the EU.

Below is the full text of the letter sent on 25 June by Jan Mládek, the Czech Republic's minister of industry and trade, to energy commissioner Gunter Oettinger.  


Dear Commisioner,

On behalf of the Ministers of Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom responsible for energy policy, I take the liberty to address you on our common view of nuclear power within the EU energy market and its role in ensuring energy security and decarbonisation.

Over recent months the issue of energy security within the EU has evolved, and we all agree that nuclear power will have an important role in the future of the EU's energy mix. We believe that Member States must maintain their right to determine their own energy mix and nuclear power will therefore have a greater role in helping individual Member States secure their own indigenous energy supply.

Many Member States have immediate challenges in bringing forward the generating capacity needed to create a secure, low carbon and affordable energy system. There are a number of failures in energy markets across Europe bringing serious concerns about the ability of markets alone to offer the sufficient security required to stimulate investment on a purely commercial basis. National support mechanisms, consistent witht the Internal Energy Market and the competition rules provided by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), may therefore be needed. The Comission itself has recognised, in its Communication from 5 November 2013, that such intervention might be necessary "to secure a level playing field, overcome market failures, foster technology and innovation deployment and, more generally, support the market in delivering appropriate investment signals." An agreed 2030 climate and energy package and the full implementation of the third energy package should contribute to a well-functioning electricity market that fulfills our future needs.

Well diversified energy systems are essential if we want to ensure energy security. We need an energy mix that will affordably meet our decarbonization objectives and meet energy demand. In the last decade the European Union has faced a continuous decline in its domestic energy production. This could be decelerated in the medium term by increasing the use of renewables according to EU policy and maintaining or developing nuclear energy according to policies of individual Member States. Nuclear energy's significant role in the European energy mix should be clearly recognized.

We are convinced that nuclear energy should keep its proper place in European energy policy in accordance with the Treaties. Nuclear energy perfectly fits the three pillars of energy policy as reflected in the TFEU: security of supply, sustainability and competitiveness. Moreover the Euratom Treaty provides for obligations of the European institutions to support the development of nuclear power. In our view, nuclear energy, for its physical and economic characteristics, is entitled to be treated as an indigenous source of energy with respect to energy security, having an important social and economic dimension.

Nuclear power stations insofar as they are compliant with the highest safety standards, bring significant benefits to EU decarbonization, energy security and economic growth. In this respect, the European leadership in nuclear industry should be preserved. Unfortunately, it should be recognized that numerous market failures are currently preventing investment coming forward and this shuld not be overlooked by the Commission. Nuclear energy which requires capital intensive and long-term investment, should be supported by market mechanisms to create a predictable investment framework.

We call on the Commission to reflect on these circumstances in its crucial decisions and political commitments. In particular, it is important that the market failures and the need to hedge against investment risks are accounted for in order to create the necessary market conditions for investment in new nuclear build projects in Europe. A technology neutral approach creating a level playing field for all low-emission sources is crucial. We have to make wise strategic decisions that will secure stable energy supplies at competitive prices for future generations.

Yours sincerely

Jan Mládek
Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic