EU NUCLEAR PLAN MAY PAVE WAY FOR STATE AID
European Union rules expected in the next few weeks may make it easier to use taxpayer money for nuclear projects, pitting nations like Germany and Austria, which oppose nuclear power, against nations like the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, which support the technology. The European Commission said it is still open on the topic, but that it is under pressure to set a legal framework after member states sought guidance. A spokesman said the Commission is not planning to encourage nuclear state aid, but a leaked draft indicated it was leaning toward allowing nuclear financing. Lawyers have said the Commission has the ultimate say on aid but that the process of issuing guidelines and carrying out a consultation may legitimize state aid for new construction. Opponents of nuclear power say government funding would be a breach of EU legal principles, under which state aid is designed to address problems that the market cannot, and is not allowed to cause unfair competition. Critics say giving aid creates a market distortion and disadvantages other forms of energy. However, the British secretary of state for energy and climate change said he was confident the nation's plans for financing nuclear would easily obtain aid clearance. "There are some countries with a very large nuclear industry. If they close, we don't have a cat in hell's chance of tackling climate change. I would love to think we can replace that with renewables alone, but frankly we won't be able to," he said. The guidelines for 2014-2020 energy aid are expected around the end of September. For the full story, see http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/08/14/us-eu-nuclear-idUKBRE97D05P20130814.