The Nuclear Alliance is working on establishing a European framework in favor of nuclear energy

The 4th of March 2024, marked a significant gathering of the European Nuclear Alliance. Their aim was to lay the groundwork for the forthcoming Nuclear Leaders Summit, set for the 21st of March in Brussels. The participating countries of the alliance are expressing contentment over the achievements thus far. They’ve pinpointed three crucial areas essential for fostering a European framework supportive of nuclear energy’s expansion.

On the 4th of March 2024, fourteen member states – consisting of 12 signing nations and 2 observers [1] – convened. Their goal was to gear up for the first-ever Leaders Nuclear Summit on the 21st of March. This event was first brought to public attention by the Belgian and French presidents at COP28 last December. Since its inception in February 2023, the Nuclear Alliance has been proud of its tangible outcomes. These outcomes affirm nuclear energy’s vital role within the EU. The alliance also commends the European Commission’s strategic move to kickstart the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Industrial Alliance. This initiative is expected to undergo routine evaluations to assess its progress.

Moreover, this preparatory session brought to light three main objectives. These objectives aim to lay down a European framework that promotes nuclear development, ensuring equitable competitive conditions for all member states. This is crucial for their pursuit of carbon neutrality by 2050.

The Alliance has identified three primary challenges to address.

The first challenge is directed towards nuclear financing. The Alliance is contemplating the establishment of a “Working Group on European Instruments for Deploying Nuclear Reactors in the EU and the Associated European Value Chain within the Nuclear Alliance.” This group aims to explore the possibilities and benefits of financing instruments, such as support from the European Investment Bank and the Innovation Fund. Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, Finance, and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, who initiated this meeting, emphasized the significance of this collective endeavor. He stated, “it will ensure the best financing for technologies, skills, and investments, especially in small modular reactors.”

The second highlighted point addresses the goal of maintaining European decarbonization objectives regarding greenhouse gas emissions, within a framework of fair competition among member states. To this end, the signatories of the statement “encourage the Commission to develop energy policies for 2040 based on updated scenarios. These should take into account the latest announcements regarding the deployment of nuclear capacities in the updated National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs).”

Lastly, the final objective aims to strengthen the European nuclear energy industrial value chain. The alliance conveyed, “We share with the Commission the interest in supporting the safe and profitable development of dynamic and innovative nuclear value chain capacities in Europe. This also includes creating a solid industrial base for small and large power reactor projects.”■

[1] The members include Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden, with Italy serving as an observer. Although not mentioned, Belgium was also an observer as of July 2023.

By François Terminet (Sfen)

Photo Caption: A screenshot from the interview with Bruno Le Maire and Rolland Lescure prior to the Energy Council in Brussels on the 4th of March 2024. Credit: ©GouvernementFrance – @RPFranceUE