Two days after his inauguration as chancellor, Olaf Solz traveled to Paris to meet with Emanuel Macron and to reaffirm the importance of the “Franco-German axis”.
There, as it was inevitable, he accepted a question that could put him in a difficult position: What is the position of himself and his three-party government on the obsession of France and Macron with atomic energy, while Germany is he preparing to leave it completely by the end of 2022?
As an experienced politician, of course, Solz chose to throw the ball on the podium. “Each country promotes its own strategy to combat anthropogenic climate change. “What unites us is that we recognize this responsibility and that we are ambitious,” he said – moving on to the next and most painless question.
In reality, however, things are not so simple, and neither Berlin nor Paris will be able to avoid this issue.
Much more to do with two literally “hot” fronts: on the one hand, the energy crisis and precision affecting Europe and the “27” of the EU, and, on the other, the definition of the criteria that will govern the “Fit for 55” program and the consequent distribution of funds that will be allocated in the next 2-3 decades, in the context of the transition to the “green economy”.
In other words: What will the Permanent Representatives of the two countries vote for and what position will their leaders take when asked whether or not atomic energy is in its “pure form” and therefore eligible for aid, incentives and funding?
For Macron, things are rather clear. He also recently announced that after many years, France’s nuclear program is being prioritized and upgraded, while the plan to build a new generation of reactors will be implemented soon.
All indications are that in the run-up to the crucial elections next April, this is the last thing that worries the current president, as in the country – which covers about 70% of its electricity needs from existing reactors – there is a broader consensus on specific issue.
However, this is not the case for the new German Chancellor, who is facing a double problem – of a technical and political nature.
As for the first, it follows from the fact that today every citizen of the country emits on average twice as much carbon dioxide as every Frenchman.
In addition, after the final lock-in of the remaining reactors, the use of fossil fuels will inevitably increase to meet the needs, at least for a long transitional period, which in turn will increase emissions of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases”. .
The second problem has to do with the presence in the Soltz government of a party that had and has as one of its main slogans “Atomic energy? No thanks!”.
These are, of course, the Greens, who will find it difficult to agree to a change of position – not only within borders, but also in the EU, vis-.-Vis France.
The truth is that things are even more serious for Soltz because the French and Macron seem to have found a suitable “tool” that allows them to gain new allies in Europe.
Among them are the – otherwise “naughty” – countries that make up the “Visegrad Group”, which fully agree with the need to maintain atomic energy in their “portfolio”, if not to strengthen it. In this sense, the warm welcome recently extended to Macron by Orban in Budapest is not accidental.
As the Netherlands, one of the Germans’ closest allies, reconsiders its stance on the issue, the headache for Merkel’s successor grows.