Germany A consensus on the phasing out of nuclear power in Germany remains elusive. The latest talks between the government and the industry, held on 22 June, ended without agreement.

The new economics minister Werner Müller leaked a planned timetable for closure to the press before the meeting. This timetable would allow each reactor an operating life of 35 years, resulting in the last reactor shutting down in 2024. But the Green Party, junior partners in the government coalition, rejected the proposal before it was even put to the industry. Party co-chair Gunda Röstel said the phase-out is “unnecessarily long”. The Greens want a timetable of five to ten years. Müller may have leaked the plan to the press in order to make the Greens look like the spoilers in the deal.

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said that closing Germany’s nuclear reactors by 2025 would be “a great success”, but acknowledged that the Government and industry were still “far apart in many areas”.

According to Manfred Petroll of the Deutsches Atomforum, the industry would probably accept a 35 year lifetime for its reactors, as long as this meant 35 years of full capacity production and not 35 calender years.

• In a separate development, the German Bundestag voted on 17 June to withhold a loan to Ukraine to complete the construction of reactors at Rovno and Khmelnitsky (K2R4). The Ukrainian government has said it cannot close down the remaining reactors at Chernobyl by 2000, as promised, without K2R4 coming on line. The Bundestag took the view that the Russian deigned reactors are not safe and Germany should finance the construction of gas-fired power stations instead. The government was instructed to approach the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is administering the financing of the K2R4 project, to urge it not to provide loans to complete the reactors.

As the EBRD financing is administered through the European Union it is doubtful that Germany can actually unilaterally withdraw its financial contribution. Chancellor Schröder and environment minister Jürgen Trittin will meet Ukrainian president Leonid Koutchma on 7 July, to discuss the issue.
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