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[cdn-nucl-l] End of deadlock on EU nuclear funds
Posted in the Financial Times on May 22, 2003 and at:
End of deadlock on EU nuclear funds
By Daniel Dombey in Brussels
Published: May 22 2003 5:00 | Last Updated: May 22 2003 5:00
Germany and France are poised for victory over the European parliament on
the use of "decommissioning funds" for nuclear reactors, after a year-long
deadlock on energy liberalisation.
The breakthrough would put the European Union back on course to open up the
energy market for businesses by July next year.
The parliament had insisted that the decommissioning funds, intended to make
nuclear reactor sites safe after use, should be split from the rest of
energy companies' finances, to prevent them from bolstering their credit
ratings and financing acquisitions.
But Germany and France, which have some of Europe's most acquisitive energy
companies - such as RWE, Eon and EdF - have disagreed on the mandatory
The fight has slowed down the passage of legislation to open up European
Union energy markets between 2004 and 2007, which an EU summit agreed in
principle in Barcelona in March last year.
The parliament was scheduled to give definitive approval to the
liberalisation at a plenary session last week but the vote was delayed
because of the decommissioning dispute.
"We cannot fully open the market where you have three companies that have
ˆ10bn ($11.6bn) or more at their disposal to buy up other companies," said
Claude Turmes, the European member of parliament championing the
decommissioning amendments. But now other MEPs steering the legislation
through have backed Commission plans to substitute the amendment with a
Commission promise to "pay particular attention" to the issue and a preamble
stressing the need to use funds for their intended purpose.
The parliament's industry committee is set to vote on the issue today and
the full parliament, which often follows the committee's lead, will consider
it next month.
"We have 54 amendments and I do not want to concentrate the debate on just
one of those points," said Peter Michal Mombauer, one of the MEPs
responsible for the legislation.
The Commisson has separately introduced proposals to control decommissioning
funds as part of a nuclear safety package but this does not require the
approval of the European parliament and faces larger opposition among member
states. France and Germany were the most reluctant to sign up to energy