Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has threatened to veto Europe’s goal of becoming the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050, adding his voice to a growing chorus of discontent as EU leaders prepare for heated climate discussions at a summit in Brussels next week.
In a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Babiš said, however, he could still change his mind in exchange for higher financial support from the EU and better investment conditions for nuclear energy.
Private investors are reluctant to pour money into new nuclear power plants, which face escalating costs and growing competition from cheap renewables. New plants are dependent on state support, which require prior approval by the European Commission’s powerful competition department.
“Nuclear plants construction may require changes in the state aid rules,” Babiš wrote in the letter, according to Czech daily Hospodářské noviny, a media partner of EURACTIV.cz.
Funding for new nuclear plants is also an issue for Poland, one of the last remaining EU countries opposed to the bloc’s proposed climate neutrality objective for 2050. At the last EU summit in October, Warsaw called for “significantly larger” amounts of funding under the EU’s next long-term budget before signing up to the 2050 goal.
Achieving climate neutrality requires “significantly larger” amounts of funding than what is currently on offer in the EU’s long-term budget proposal for 2021-2027, Warsaw said in a memo circulated ahead of an EU leaders’ summit opening today.
There is resistance at regional level too. During an exchange of views on Thursday (5 December) with Frans Timmermans, the EU Commission vice-president in charge of the European Green Deal, local representatives warned against adopting “unrealistic” climate objectives for 2030. The 50-55% cut in greenhouse gases envisaged by the new European Commission risked hurting local businesses, said Cor Lamers, the Mayor of the Dutch city of Schiedam.