A senior minister in France's new centre-right government has told parliament that a "positive decision regarding construction of a lead unit of the next-generation European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) is likely to be announced in the near future.
Francis Mer, the minister for the economy, finances and industry, made the announcement during testimony to the parliamentary standing committee for production and trade on a range of issues, including energy policy. Mer said: "With regard to energy policy, a positive decision concerning the EPR is probable soon. Nuclear energy is the best response to the greenhouse effect. The problem posed by very modest volumes of high-level, long-lived radioactive waste is not insoluble, as has now been demonstrated by Finland." Mer, and the secretary of state for industry, Nicole Fontaine, also announced further details of the government's plans for a comprehensive reform of national energy policy which they said should be based on a continued commitment to the use of nuclear power, combined with the promotion of both natural gas and renewable energy sources.
With regard to the Kyoto Protocol, Mer said that France would meet its emissions reductions commitments by using "the methods that penalise economic activity the least." He added: "The scale of the problem posed by global warming necessitates a prolonged research effort, which will allow us to establish new industrial procedures for minimising CO2 emissions."