During an exchange with French parliamentarians this week, the EU Commission vice-president in charge of the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said Brussels “will support, sustain and assist those member states that make this choice” of using nuclear power. EURACTIV France reports.
Timmermans, who was speaking on Wednesday (8 December) to the National Assembly’s committees on European Affairs and Sustainable Development, promised an inclusive and ambitious ecological transition that leaves no one behind.
They discussed the work of the European Commission on various issues related to the ecological transition, ranging from the carbon market to hydrogen, the evolution of the automotive sector, nuclear power in the green taxonomy and the timetable for the Fit for 55 package.
“We know that there will be a lot of negotiating to do [by the European Commission],” said Laurence Maillard Méhaignerie, chair of the French parliament’s Committee on Sustainable Development and Regional Planning.
“It is also a work of conviction, because, in the end, it is the economic models and value chains that need to be reviewed, the lifestyles and jobs that are also profoundly transformed” by the ecological transition.
This ecological transition and the measures that come with it would not only make individuals and companies feel excluded or suffer from the transition, but, as Renew Europe MEP Pascal Canfin warned a few months ago, could also create a new movement like the Gilets jaunes.
But according to Timmermans, “no one will be left behind, abandoned in this transition”.
“We must show through concrete steps (…) that we are concerned about social issues. The transition will be social or it will not be!” he added.
The nuclear question
The questions put by French lawmakers focused on the industrial sectors most concerned by the ecological transition and nuclear.
On integrating nuclear power to the European green taxonomy, the EU vice-president said that “the taxonomy has only one objective, that of providing transparency to savers and investors who want their money to be useful for our environmental objectives.”
“The choice to use nuclear power, or not, is solely up to the member states, and the Commission will support, sustain and assist those member states that make this choice,” he stressed.
More generally, Timmermans spoke about Europe’s trade policy, which he said must adapt to the industry’s efforts of to reduce greenhouse gases.
The Commission is now working to ensure that the constraints placed on EU production are also applied to imported products, the Commission Vice-President stressed.
“And it will also be necessary to change the modus operandi of the World Trade Organisation to move in this direction. It is important to put our trade relations on the same trajectory as the sustainable economy”, he added.
The position of the EU’s climate chief corresponds with France’s priorities for the EU Council presidency announced on Thursday (9 December) by President Emmanuel Macron. France will reconcile economic and climate ambitions when it takes over the presidency for six months in January, Macron also said.