(December 15, 2006) A report by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) documents how nuclear industry lobbyists are targeting the European Parliament ahead of a crucial vote on December 14. Their lobbying offensive, co-ordinated by the umbrella group Foratom, aims to prevent a binding EU target for renewable energy (which excludes nuclear) and instead make the EU strive for 'low-carbon technologies' targets (with includes nuclear energy). This EU strive for 'low-carbon technologies' could create massive new momentum for nuclear energy in Europe.
(650.5772) CEO - Energy is a hot issue in Brussels. In less than a month, the Commission will publish its Strategic Review on Energy (scheduled for 10 January 2007). This is preceded by a critical vote in the European Parliament (EP) on 14 December on the so-called Morgan report on the Green Paper on Energy. The rapidly growing and dramatic effects of climate change leave no doubt about the need to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. This need for action has unleashed a new phase in the tug of war between nuclear and renewable energy. This is supplemented by grand political talk linking broader trends in geopolitics with continuing energy supply needs. This combination creates a situation ripe for heavy lobbying.
The more than 40 nuclear lobbyists permanently based in Brussels are frantically working to influence MEPs in advance of December 14's vote in Strasbourg (unfortunately this is well after the deadline for this issue of the Nuclear Monitor). They do work in tandem with a well-organised group of pro-nuclear MEPs from around Europe, which are tabling amendments identical to industry lobby demands and building wider political support for these positions. The anti-nuclear movement, in contrast, is weakly resourced and seriously under-represented in Brussels, an imbalance the nuclear industry works hard to exploit.
The CEO report (entitled: "Nuclear Power Grab? Corporate Lobbyists and MEPs Working in Tandem to Spin Nuclear Energy as Sustainable", December 2006) also highlights the problematic role of intransparent MEPs-business forums, which are for instance used to take MEPs on all-expenses-paid propaganda trips (paid for by the nuclear industry) to visit nuclear power plants in different European countries, the most recent happened early December. Under the cover of these MEPs-business forums, nuclear companies have organised lectures to influence MEPs, some of these even took place inside the Parliament's building in Strasbourg.
The vote on December 14 is crucial because it happens less than one month ahead of the publication of the Strategic Review on Energy by the European Commission. Foratom hopes to get a clear pro-nuclear signal from the European Parliament and there's a large risk that this may indeed be the outcome of the vote. The main lobbying objective towards this important Commission report is to get a target included that 60% of the EU's electricity demand should be covered by 'low-carbon technologies', including nuclear power. This would create massive new momentum for nuclear energy in Europe.
This outcome would be in stark contrast with public opinion in Europe: according to a survey of Eurobarometer, Europeans are very favourable to solar (48%) and wind energy (31%), while nuclear is only supported by 12%. ("Attitudes towards energy", October - November 2005, p9.
The draft report of the European Parliament energy committee calls for binding EU targets for the share of renewable sources in primary energy, but nuclear lobbyists hope to replace this by the 'low-carbon technologies' phrase. These words sound similar, but the implications for the future of energy supply in Europe are enormous.
The CEO report can be downloaded at:
Source and Contact: Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), De Wittenstraat 25, 1052 AK Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Tel:+31-20-612-7023; Fax: +31-20-6861208