French MEPs divided on gas and nuclear in EU taxonomy ahead of key vote

On the French side, lawmakers voted according to rank and file.

French EU lawmakers are divided on including gas and nuclear power in the EU’s green finance taxonomy ahead of a final vote in July, as MEPs recently adopted a resolution opposing a delegated act to that effect, but only by a small margin.

The original article was written in French: Read the story in French here.

On Tuesday (14 June), lawmakers in the Parliament’s environment committee (ENVI) and those from the economic and monetary affairs committee (ECON) adopted a resolution – with 76 votes in favour and 62 against – that opposes a delegated act from the Commission introducing specific activities linked to nuclear and gas in the green taxonomy.

While lawmakers acknowledge the role of nuclear and gas in ensuring a stable transitional energy supply, they consider that “the technical review standards proposed by the Commission […] do not respect the criteria of environmentally sustainable economic activities,” the European Parliament wrote in its press release.

French MEPs in rank and file

On the French side, lawmakers voted according to rank and file.

Those on the side of Renew Europe, the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Identity and Democracy Group (ID) voted in favour of the proposed delegated act.

Meanwhile, the Greens, the Social Democrats (S&D) and Left-wing MEPs (GUE) opposed the delegated act by a wide margin and outnumbered right-wing and centrist lawmakers.

Parliament committees object to EU's 'green' label for gas, nuclear

Two European Parliament committees on Tuesday (14 June) backed an attempt to stop the EU labelling gas and nuclear energy as climate-friendly investments, setting the stage for a full Parliament vote that could reject the rules next month.

Yannick Jadot, the leader of the French Green delegation, hailed “a victory for the climate” on Twitter, adding that renewable energies are the “only energies of the future”.

In the same vein, Marie Toussaint – the Green group’s vice-president – recalled that Europe “needs investment in the massive expansion of renewable energies, not in the perpetuation of a dangerous and climate-damaging energy system.”

Contacted by EURACTIV ahead of the vote, Toussaint already said that green-labelling investments in gas and nuclear power were “an aberration from the outset”. The war in Ukraine has only “reinforced” this feeling.

Not including gas in the green taxonomy can partly be explained by the EU’s fears about its dependence on Russian gas.

Asked by EURACTIV about the crisis opportunity created by the war in Ukraine, Neil Makaroff, head of Europe at Climate Action Network-France, said the war had “revealed Europe’s vulnerabilities” on energy security. “Transition is the best ally for European sovereignty,” he added.

According to MEPs from the Left group, including members of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise, this vote is also an opportunity to send a strong message against industrial lobbies and national policies.

“Another defeat for Macron, who was responsible for this scandalous anti-ecological deal,” tweeted Manon Aubry, the co-president of the European Parliament’s Left group.

Lawmakers from the social and democrat groups in the European Parliament also welcomed the vote. For example, Aurore Lalucq, also a member of the ECON committee, slammed Macron’s delegation in the European Parliament, Renaissance, saying not having gas and nuclear in the EU’s taxonomy was a loss for them.

Mélenchon revives debate over nuclear's supposed 'volatility' ahead of election

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has reiterated his opposition to nuclear ahead of the first round of the legislative elections this weekend, adding that he will maintain his stance if he gets nominated prime minister. EURACTIV France reports.

Holding their ground

By comparison, centrists say they will “meet in July to drop this objection”, Renew Europe MEP Christophe Gudler tweeted on Tuesday.

In the same vein, far-right MEP and member of the ENVI committee, Aurélia Beigneux, called for “vigilance” to ensure that the delegated act is voted in the plenary session.

In a statement, lawmakers from the right-wing Les Républicains party in the EPP group, Agnès Evren and Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé, also backed the proposed delegated act “in order to encourage private investment in sustainable growth”. Evren tweeted that it was “essential that nuclear power be seen for what it is: an indispensable energy to reach our climate objectives!”

If the final vote mirrors that of the committees, not integrating nuclear in the green taxonomy could have repercussions on France and its ability to maintain its energy security as nuclear represents half of its electricity mix.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon/Alice Taylor]

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