Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

A Question of Fairness? EU Rejects Balkans Nuclear Power Request

Posted by K.E. White on March 14, 2007

The EU has signaled that it will not allow Bulgaria to restart two old nuclear power plants. Bulgaria, who had agreed to shut down the plants as part of their EU accession, asked for the change citing an 80-100 percent increase in their power costs.

While good news for those looking to curb the proliferation of dangerous nuclear power generation (which is a stone’s throw from weapons production), is the ruling fair?

From the BBC:

The European Commission told BBC News that it had not yet considered the Balkan proposal, but Ferran Tarradellas, spokesman for the EU energy commissioner, said that conditions had not changed.

“Bulgaria has undertaken a commitment to close units three and four in Kozloduy as part of the accession treaty,” Mr Tarradellas said.

He added that the EU had already provided hundreds of millions of euros in assistance to Bulgaria to soften the blow of the closure.

The chief European Commission representative in Bulgaria, Michael Humphreys, acknowledged that Bulgaria’s decision to close the two Soviet-built reactors had been difficult.

But he told BBC News that “any request to change that decision would be unacceptable, because it would entail a renegotiation of the accession treaty, a unanimous consent of the 27 member state governments and ratification by 27 parliaments”.

SofiaEcho.com expresses an alternative view:

Economy and Energy Minister Roumen Ovcharov said that the only reasons for the NPP units closure were bureaucratic. By demanding the closure EU was acting against its own policy for safety of energy supplies, guarantee of European economy competitiveness and fight against climate changes, Ovcharov said.

Bulgaria was the fourth largest European energy exporter in 2006 and covered almost 100 per cent of the energy deficit in the Balkan region. Now it can guarantee only its domestic energy needs and export no more than 10 to 15 per cent, Ovcharov said.

Dwindling energy supplies–or that perception–is pushing countries of all stripes to take another look at the nuclear option. And now is even upseting (however minorly) EU expansion

Just a simple example of how geo-energy politics can be hard to resolve, let alone within multinational organizations.

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