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Business News/ News / France Balks at EU Green Goals, Backs Sovereign Energy Mix
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France Balks at EU Green Goals, Backs Sovereign Energy Mix

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire criticized the European Commission’s approach toward climate targets, saying the European Union’s executive arm focuses too much on renewable energy while overlooking other technologies like nuclear power in the fight against global warming.

France Balks at EU Green Goals, Backs Sovereign Energy MixPremium
France Balks at EU Green Goals, Backs Sovereign Energy Mix

(Bloomberg) -- French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire criticized the European Commission’s approach toward climate targets, saying the European Union’s executive arm focuses too much on renewable energy while overlooking other technologies like nuclear power in the fight against global warming. 

“We no longer want a Europe that sets targets for wind turbines here, and for solar there," Le Maire told reporters before the beginning of a European Union meeting of ministers in Brussels Monday. “We want a Europe that sets clear climate targets."

Such targets should abide by the bloc’s ambition to become carbon neutral by the middle of the century, while leaving member states free to determine their own energy mix to achieve that goal, the minister said. France will continue to develop renewables, build at least six new nuclear plants, and seek to further curb fossil fuels through energy-saving measures, he added. 

Le Maire’s comments suggest that France — the EU’s largest nuclear energy producer — will again be on a collision course with the commission over the best way to meet climate goals. After much debate, Paris last year signed on to EU legislation that aims to roughly double the share of renewables to at least 42.5% of the region’s energy mix by 2030. 

France is seeking to avoid being fined for being the only EU country to have missed its renewable energy target for 2020. It argues that its electricity system emits less carbon than most other nations due to its fleet of 56 atomic reactors.

“France won’t pay a fine, and will find a solution with the commission," Le Maire said. “I don’t see why one would pay a fine while being successful in terms of climate." 

Asked whether the commission has started any infringement proceedings against France, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told reporters in Brussels that “we have discussed this" possibility with Le Maire. “We will follow up that in the very near future," she said. 

The French finance minister reiterated a call for European institutions such as the European Investment Bank to fund nuclear projects such as research.    

--With assistance from Petra Sorge.

(Updates with reaction from the EU Commission in penultimate paragraph.)

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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Published: 05 Mar 2024, 12:47 AM IST
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