European Commission to enable state aid for nuclear power

The EU is formulating legislation that aims to exempt all nuclear power projects from restrictions on state aid in a move that will be welcomed by the UK and France.

Under the plans state aid rules will be changed to make it easier for member countries to subsidise nuclear power, but the news is likely to go down badly in anti-nuclear Berlin.

Nuclear power

The Financial Times received a leaked copy of the proposal, which the commission had hoped to keep under wraps until after the forthcoming German elections.

Nuclear firms can already apply for exemptions from state aid rules on a case-by-case basis.

Under the proposals, countries would be allowed to use state aid for projects to address “market failure” as long as this is through a time-limited mechanism not offering more than a “reasonable rate of return”.

Westminster will be hopeful that the plan is delivered as they look to build a new wave of nuclear reactors in the UK.

In 2008 the EU created special state aid guidelines to allow subsidies for renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar power, as well as energy efficiency projects – but not nuclear.

Nuclear power’s advocates, particularly France, have long sought to make the case that its low greenhouse gas emissions should also make it eligible for special treatment in EU policy.

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