Prague wants EU guarantees to build new nuclear blocks


12. 12. 2019 • 17:00

PM Andrej Babis will push for the recognition of nuclear energy as a clean source at the upcoming EU summit and demand the guarantees that other member states will not block the building of new nuclear units in Czechia, he told reporters before his departure for Brussels today. The two-day summit starts this afternoon.

If nuclear energy were accepted as a clean, emissions-free energy source, the Czech Republic would have the right to climate investments.

The Czech Republic cannot reach carbon neutrality without nuclear power, Babis said today.

Prague mainly fears that the neighbouring Austria will block the construction of new nuclear blocks in Dukovany, south Moravia, and Temelin, south Bohemia, plants, both of which are situated near the Austrian border.

Babis said he considered it absurd that Austria was fighting nuclear energy and at the same time, importing roughly a quarter of its electricity from the Czech Republic.

Babis stressed that Czechia, too, would like to reach climate neutrality and close its coal-fired power plants in future.

"However, on condition the European Council clearly says that nuclear power is a clean, emissions-free source," Babis said.

Prague wants to be sure that Austria or other EU member states do not block Czech investments in nuclear energy, he noted. He cannot understand why France, where nuclear power plants make up the core of its energy market, is preventing this, he added.

Carbon neutrality means that each country neutralises as many emissions as it produces. Babis said on Wednesday that the costs of reaching carbon neutrality in the Czech Republic will amount to 675 billion crowns.

The APA Austrian news agency has reported that Austria and Luxembourg are prepared to block the resolution that would enable the member states to draw support from the EU funds for their nuclear plant construction at the EU summit. Consequently, it would be complicated to achieve consensus on the key commitment of carbon neutrality by 2050, according to diplomats.

Besides climate, the summit will also deal with the EU's multi-annual budget framework for 2021- 2027. The EU countries' leaders will debate the draft worked out by the Finnish presidency that the European Commission and most member states criticised. Babis today called the ending Finnish presidency "a disaster."