Friday, December 17, 2021

Germany: chancellor Scholz on Nord Stream 2 and nuclear power

 Newly appointed chancellor Olaf Scholz refused in a speech to interconnect the question of the operating licence of contentious pipeline Nord Stream 2 and the tense situation in Ukraine. Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project, he said. He disagreed with french President Macron about the future of nuclear. He pointed out that Germany has other energetical models. 

Source WELT:

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has spoken out against combining the operating license for the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with efforts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. “With regard to Nord Stream 2, it is a private-sector project,” he said on Friday night after the EU summit in Brussels.

For commissioning, compliance with European law has to be clarified in one aspect. "An authority in Germany decides on this quite apolitically," emphasized the SPD politician. This is "a different question" than the current efforts to prevent a violation of the Ukrainian borders.

The Baltic Sea pipeline from Russia to Germany was completed weeks ago. The Federal Network Agency decides on the operating permit. The pipeline has long been criticized by the US, but also by some EU countries. They fear that they are too dependent on Russia for energy supplies.

At its summit, the EU unanimously threatened Russia with retaliation in the event of an attack on Ukraine. In a joint statement by the heads of state and government, Russia urgently needs to defuse the tensions caused by the deployment of troops on the border with Ukraine and aggressive rhetoric. Any further military aggression will have "massive consequences and high costs".

Scholz also downplayed the months-long debate about classifying nuclear power as an environmentally friendly technology. "The question is completely overrated," said Scholz at a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. "It's about assessing the activities of companies - important for those who want to invest money."

The intensity of the debate shows that investing money is an important topic, said Scholz. In the end, however, the individual countries decided which path they wanted to take with regard to their path to an emission-free future.

The background to the statements is a discussion that has been going on for months about the so-called EU taxonomy, which is intended to classify which areas of the economy are considered environmentally friendly. Citizens and investors should receive clear information about sustainable financial products.

France produces a large part of its electricity with nuclear energy and therefore absolutely wants to include nuclear power in the taxonomy, Germany has so far been against it. "We have different models of electricity production," said Macron. A solution to the taxonomy had to be found that would enable both countries to channel private money into their industries.

Germany and France are in intensive talks about the design of the taxonomy, including with the EU Commission responsible for this, said Scholz.

The Brussels authority is expected to present a so-called delegated act next week, which could finally clarify the question. It is considered likely that certain gas and nuclear power plants will be listed in the taxonomy, at least temporarily.

Even if Scholz and Macron worked harmoniously, the discussion on taxonomy held up the talks on energy prices, as Council President Charles Michel announced at a separate press conference. At the meeting, the heads of state and government could not agree on a common line on the sharp rise in energy prices.

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