11 Oct 2023, 13:35
Benjamin Wehrmann

Agreement on EU power market reform imminent, Scholz and Macron say, shrugging off nuclear dispute

Clean Energy Wire

France and Germany could soon agree on a reform of the EU electricity market, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Olaf Scholz have said after their meeting in the northern German port city of Hamburg. A solution in the debate between Paris and Berlin on maintaining competitiveness in Europe while transforming the industry towards climate neutral procedures could still be achieved in October, the French president said at a press conference following the informal two-day meeting between government members of both countries in Scholz’s hometown. “Of course, we have two very different models at the national level,” Macron said. “We’ve discussed this profoundly and in an encouraging fashion and agreed our teams want to work together in the next weeks to arrive at a necessary agreement by the end of the month.” The priority would be “to have a Europe with one coherent strategy,” Macron said, adding that this would currently be needed with respect to the U.S., “which is less dependent and has lower prices.”

Chancellor Scholz said Germany and France agreed on climate action targets, even if they pursued different approaches to achieve them. The fact that France bets on nuclear power and Germany instead aims for 100 percent renewables and a massively expanded power grid “is no reason for antagonism but simply represents two different decisions,” Scholz argued. He added he was “confident” that a solution for the EU power market reform could be found quickly. “And this is most likely if Germany and France develop it together.” The chancellor added that both countries had drafted a strategy to reduce bureaucracy in the European Union that will allow policy decisions to take effect faster and more comprehensively.

Germany and France must focus on “simple stuff” on the way to climate neutrality by 2050: leaving gas and coal, establishing greater energy efficiency, renewable power sources and nuclear energy. “Everyone says that,” the French president argued, adding that a strategy that excludes one of these elements could not succeed. “It would be a historic mistake to think in the short term here and decide for either renewables or nuclear power. This would not work.” Bringing emissions down in the most cost-efficient manner and simultaneously creating “a free market for low-CO2 electricity production” should now be the focus, Macron said, adding that the two leaders agreed that “we don’t want subsidies for energy-intensive production.”

The statements by the two government leaders came one day after another joint press conference in Hamburg, in which both Macron and Scholz underlined the need for greater industry cooperation and hailed aircraft manufacturer Airbus as a role model for future projects between the two countries amid the EU's efforts to move towards climate neutrality.

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