08 Feb 2022, 14:10
Benjamin Wehrmann

France and Germany plan revamp of their energy cooperation

Clean Energy Wire

France and Germany, who have recently been at odds over the future role of nuclear and gas, will intensify their cooperation on climate action in Europe and work towards reducing conflicts in energy policy, said German economy and climate minister Robert Habeck during a visit to his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire. “We’ll have to invest for the benefit of our respective economies and to combine innovation, jobs and economic prosperity with climate action across all of Europe,” Habeck said. He acknowledged that the countries have different traditions and, at times, diverging interests that warrant closer cooperation for the sake of European “core issues”. If the two countries manage to reconcile their differences, it could offer a blueprint for other EU member states to subscribe to the compromise, Habeck argued. Both governments will set up joint working groups in the next week that will aim to find solutions to the most urgent disagreements. Le Maire, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said both countries should focus on the promising green hydrogen industry and other future technologies, pointing out that the current energy price hike and the Russia-Ukraine crisis highlight the need for more independence in energy generation. “It’s indispensable to think of the economy and climate together,” he said. Speaking at a German media event following on his meeting with Habeck, Le Maire said that the new German government had brought a change in the two countries' bilateral relations. "I feel like the role of climate change is now at the core of the French-German relation and politics."

Energy cooperation of Germany and France, the EU‘s two most populous and economically powerful states, in recent months has been dominated by a dispute over the future role of nuclear power and natural gas in European climate action plans and the taxonomy for sustainable investments. While France is a staunch supporter of nuclear power, Germany is phasing out the technology at the end of this year due to safety concerns. The French government argues that nuclear power is a low-carbon alternative to coal, which Germany wants to temporarily replace with natural gas before the energy system has been transformed to 100 percent renewables.

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