The transformation of the attitude of the European Commission towards a more pro-nuclear stance appears to be gathering speed, with EU energy commissioner Loyola de Palacio telling the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that more public money should be spent on the industry. In contrast to the bullish pro-petrochemical stance of the new US president Bush, the Spanish commissioner said the EU needed to consider alternatives to oil and natural gas to guarantee reliable energy supplies, including nuclear energy. She also stressed that instead of moving towards its 12% energy share goal for renewables, the EU is stagnating at around 6%.
On nuclear power, the commissioner was “enthusiastically positive,” saying “resources need to be pumped into research for radioactive waste management.” She added that nuclear energy has: “Helped the EU achieve its Kyoto Protocol targets regarding global warming, helping it avoid around 300 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.” She also said that the nuclear option: “Should be examined in relation to its contribution to our prime concerns of security of supply and reduction in CO2 emissions,” pointing out that the industry provides 35% of all electricity produced in the EU. “Giving up the nuclear option would make it impossible to achieve the objectives of combatting climate change,” she said.