Last week, France launched the formation of a “nuclear alliance” of 11 European countries. Belgium? Not invited, said the Belgian Minister of energy, Tinne Van der Straeten (Green). A version that is questioned by several members of the government. With nuclear energy, controversy is never far away in our country. But the prime minister has taken up the matter again.
A certain chaos emerged around the two winters in which the supply risks are threatened. In the end, it was decided to leave both options open, namely the upgrading of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 during the usual maintenance work and the extension of the service life of the older reactors, Doel 1 & 2 and Tihange 1. Elia and Engie were asked to study these two options, even though Engie has already rejected the second option and the fanc, the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control, has clearly shown its preference for the first option.
But another topic also came to the table with Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) and his deputy prime ministers: the non-participation of Belgium in the European nuclear alliance started by France.
Many questions immediately arose in the Wetstraat: why was Belgium not involved in the discussions? Van der Straeten’s reply was succinct: Belgium “has not received a formal invitation””
Within the Vivaldi there are suspicions that the minister of Energy has not responded to the first diplomatic contacts, which has led to a non-invitation.
Others argue that Belgium is not part of the initiative simply because our country has been struggling with the phase-out of nuclear energy for 20 years and because until further notice, Belgium has not changed the 2003 law governing this phase-out. In this regard, Engie and Belgium still have to conclude a definitive agreement on the extension of the service life of the two most recent reactors by 10 years.
However, La Libre learned that the prime minister is taking the matter in hand and will establish diplomatic contacts so that Belgium receives observer status within the alliance. When there is more clarity about our nuclear policy, including the development of new SMR reactors, it is not excluded that we will even become an integral part of the European club, it is understood.
France, together with 10 other European countries, forms a European “alliance” around nuclear energy. The participating countries are Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Finland, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland.
This club aims the promotion of “new nuclear projects” based on “innovative technologies” and the “operation of existing nuclear power plants”. Scientific cooperation is promoted, as well as the implementation of best practices in the field of safety. Italy and Sweden can be invited to join the club, unlike Germany, Luxembourg and Austria, which strongly oppose this development.
Behind the scenes of European politics, crucial negotiations are currently taking place on the role of hydrogen produced from nuclear energy. In mid-February, the commission decided that this hydrogen could be considered “Green”, a major victory for pro-nuclear parties in Europe, which can increase their share of green energy.