Tuesday, June 6

Spain at the great energy crossroads: “Here we are anti-nuclear and anti-nuclear, that’s not how we got there”


Three former ministers discuss the great challenge facing the continent, including an energy crisis that keeps its cost at record prices.

Jordi Sevilla, Ana Palacio, Josep Piqu
Jordi Sevilla, Ana Palacio, Josep Piqu and Mart Saballs.JAVI MARTNEZ

Europe, and Spain in particular, will face the great energy crossroads in 2022: accelerating the ecological transition in which the continent is immersed or rethinking the current model to balance the pace of change to available energy sources with the aim of trying to alleviate the current price crisis that the continent is suffering.

This debate involves, in the first place, discerning between what is a clean source of energy and what is not. But even here it does not seem that the Member States of the European Union are capable of reaching a consensus. And the clearest example is the struggle between France and Germany for the role that nuclear power should play in this energy transition.

The first, the country that gives more weight to atomic energy in its energy model, advocates re-driving this technology with the help of European funds with the construction of nuclear mini-reactors. The second, on the other hand, has a plan to close reactors in motion and is oriented more towards the use of gas in electricity generation as a backup for renewable energies.

And Spain? “We are anti-nuclear and anti-gas, and that is not how we arrived,” the former Foreign Minister replies. Ana Palacio, who participated yesterday in the Green and Digital Europe Forum organized by EL MUNDO to analyze the role that the country should play in the European reality after the hit of the pandemic.

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Palacio doubts that Europe can afford to abandon atomic energy when its main global competitors China and USA, continue to build or renovate reactors already in operation. It is a matter of competitiveness. In any case, the former ‘popular’ minister believes that the decision to be made must be made by unity, since much of the influence that the EU can deploy in the world passes through its regulatory power. “At COP26 we gave a show, with the French and Germans pulling each other’s hair over the role of nuclear power,” he laments.

In the same line, the former minister also pronounces Josep Piqu, who has been the holder of the Foreign and Energy and Industry portfolios. In fact, he considers that both areas are closely related and that there cannot be a continental solution for the energy sector if there is not a consensual foreign policy. “It is evidence: there is no common energy policy because there is no common foreign policy,” he warned in the same forum.

This reason precisely prevented European leaders from reaching a joint response to the energy crisis at last week’s summit, with Poland and the Czech Republic vetoing including joint measures in the conclusions of the European council for its high dependence on coal and calling for the continent to slow down its race to reduce CO2 emissions.

These divisions show that there is a lack of clear leadership in Europe, and even more so after the departure of Angela Merkel of the German government. “We must strengthen the European Union as a nation, and I am afraid that we are not going there. The position of leader is vacant and it is not achieved with the idea of ​​what is mine, but with how I can help the project,” he concluded, for his part, the former Minister of Public Administrations, Jordi Sevilla.

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