(Bloomberg) -- France and eight other European nations dependent on nuclear energy put forward their plan to break the deadlock over state support to extend the life of aging reactors.
Now comes the hard part: winning over Germany, which is concerned that those efforts could undercut prices in its economy, Europe’s largest. Berlin has floated its own vision in search of a breakthrough, but the two sides remain far apart ahead of a meeting of energy ministers on Oct. 17.
The dispute is central to comprehensive re-design of the European Union’s electricity market as the bloc bolsters its energy security after last year’s crisis and prepares for the energy transition. The goal of the power market reform was to weaken the role of natural gas in setting prices while also spurring the take up of renewables.
France — joined by Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia — is doubling down on efforts to ensure support for prolonging existing nuclear facilities, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.
Paris is pushing for rules that would allow it to ensure more stability for state-controlled Electricite de France SA and to tap new financing sources to extend the life of its reactors. Germany, which has phased out nuclear energy, has blocked such efforts out of concern that EDF would be able to sell power at uneconomical costs.
Spain, which holds the rotating presidency of the bloc, submitted a compromise proposal on Friday, laying out options for a breakthrough at the energy ministers’ meeting this month. One of those possibilities involves completely removing the section that governs subsidies for lifetime extensions, according to the document seen by Bloomberg.
Time is running out to finalize the overhaul of the power market design before EU elections next year. If energy ministers fail to reach a deal on Oct. 17, leaders from the bloc’s 27 member states may take up the issue at a summit later this month to provide political impetus, according to EU diplomats. Once a deal is reached, talks will begin with parliament over the final shape of the reform.
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