(Bloomberg) -- With European nations locked in tense negotiations over the role of nuclear energy, the bloc’s rotating presidency has put forward a compromise that may break the deadlock — and allow a small win for major nuclear producer France.

Sweden proposed language that allows for countries to lower their green hydrogen targets by including fuel produced by “non-fossil” energy sources, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg. The European Union is heading into crucial negotiations today on its renewable energy targets with countries discussing how to carve out a potential role for nuclear. 

France would be a major beneficiary of the measure due to its extensive use of nuclear power. The fight over the role nuclear plays in the EU’s transition to climate neutrality has been one of the most fractious since the Commission first proposed rules for a massive scale-up of renewables almost two years ago. 

The debate has pitted France, which relies on nuclear power for most of its electricity supply, against Germany, which is on the cusp of phasing the technology out entirely.

The subject dominated a meeting of energy ministers on Tuesday, which tried to grapple with how to ensure that its rules for renewables remain credible, while granting special dispensation to countries like France with a more de-carbonized energy mix. Even if a deal is reached among member states this morning, there’s no guarantee it will survive talks with parliament later.

Core elements of the green deal have been subject to horse-trading over recent weeks. Germany held up rules effectively banning new combustion engine vehicles from 2035 until it received assurances over how vehicles running solely on e-fuels could be exempted. France has done similarly for nuclear, and talks between the two have taken place frequently.

That’s caused anger among some countries, who say they are subject to a power play between the continent’s major powers.

“If I’m a big beast like France or Germany, then I can trample on the whole European democratic process,” Claude Turmes, Luxembourg’s energy minister, said before the meeting on Tuesday. “That’s the real damage that has been inflicted on Europe.”

Grand Bargain

Under the latest compromise proposal from the Swedish Presidency, countries could cut their their 2030 targets for green hydrogen by almost a third if unabated fossil fuels produce less than 30% of the overall hydrogen consumed by industry. They would also have to meet overarching target for renewables by the end of the decade.

While nuclear isn’t explicitly mentioned, the proposal suggests member states should be able to “combine the use of non-fossil energy sources and renewable fuels” to de-carbonize their industrial sectors. 

France has been battling to get acceptance for nuclear as a technology virtually on a par with renewables like wind and solar. It made similar interventions on EU rules ranging from the bloc’s green taxonomy to a recent proposal by the commission, which laid out strategic net zero technologies that could be eligible for extra government support in the wake of the US’s package of climate subsidies.

“We all share the objective to de-carbonize our economy and thus meet our climate objectives and protect competitiveness and sovereignty,” French President Emmanuel Macron said last week. “Nuclear power and renewables allow it — the use of coal or gas doesn’t.”

The bloc’s 27 member states have been divided almost exactly in half on the issue, making agreements very challenging to reach. EU countries are expected to finalize their position on clean energy targets ahead of talks with parliament at a meeting of senior diplomats on Wednesday.

“We can try and find a solution for the French, but nuclear is not green,” said Teresa Ribera, Spain’s minister for the environmental transition.

--With assistance from Iain Rogers and Ania Nussbaum.

(Updates with process in fifth paragraph, Macron comment in 12th paragraph.)

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