Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

Nuclear contamination - a year after Fukushima, why does Brussels still back nuclear power?

  • Dansk
  • Nederlands
  • English
  • Suomi
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Ελληνικά
  • Italiano
  • Bokmål
  • Polski
  • Portuguese
  • Română
  • Slovenščina
  • Español
  • Svenska

One year after the Fukushima disaster hit Japan, nuclear power remains very firmly on the agenda for the European Commission. Corporate Europe Observatory examines how the industry has been lobbying behind the scenes, promising that nuclear power does not pose a risk.

The nuclear industry is gearing up to the first anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster by arguing that nuclear power remains central to the EU’s energy needs. Over the last year the industry has repeated key public relations messages that nuclear energy is not only safe, but central to any low carbon, secure energy future. And its vociferous PR campaign and highly effective lobby network, has been welcomed by parts of the European Commission.

A year on from Fukushima, the policy ramifications are still being felt across the EU, particularly in some member states. While the industry concedes that the accident “had a major impact on the EU institutional agenda,” has been lobbying hard to minimise these impacts, trying to make sure that Fukushima does not compromise the potential for nuclear new build in the EU.

As the European authorities undertake a serious of “stress tests” to assess the risk of a Fukushima-type disaster affecting a European nuclear power plant, the industry’s carefully crafted public relations message is that safety remains its top priority.

And the campaign has been successful. Despite the world’s worst nuclear accident for a generation, the nuclear industry, operating with an estimated 20 million euro lobby budget and some 150-200 lobbyists in Brussels, remains extremely dominant.

The lobby is so powerful that, despite Fukushima, nuclear remains at the heart of European Commission’s proposals for a clean energy future. Meanwhile over in the European Parliament, some policy analysts believe that within the European Parliament, the nuclear lobby is even more powerful than it was before. This means that while some member states such as Germany and Italy may be ditching nuclear, in Brussels, the industry believes the future still looks bright for nuclear power.

The industry’s web of influence starts with powerful lobby groups such as Foratom and nuclear companies such as E.ON and EDF, who appear to be welcome visitors at DG Energy, the Commission department in charge of nuclear power.

The Commission has also created platforms for the lobby to influence policy such as advisory groups and technology platforms such as the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP). Finally the nuclear lobby spreads its influence via pro-nuclear MEPs such as British Conservative Giles Chichester.

Despite nuclear’s friends in Brussels, there are many who believe that the industry’s influence is waning further afield. There are two main factors behind this: the new generation of nuclear reactors that were produced post Chernobyl have not lived up to their promise. But, more importantly, in the current financial climate, banks have been unwilling to provide finance.

In addition, in January 2012 a formal complaint about subsidies for nuclear power was sent to the European Commission which, if upheld, would make it unlikely that any new nuclear power stations will be built in the EU.

Despite these setbacks, the nuclear lobby is arguing that nuclear remains central to EU energy policy, regardless of Fukushima. The energy journal Platts, disagrees. “Turning a blind eye to Fukushima is clearly not sustainable,” it argues.

Read the full report as a pdf here:

 
The nuclear industry is gearing up to the first anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster by arguing that nuclear power remains central to the EU’s energy needs. Over the last year the industry has repeated key public relations messages that nuclear energy is not only safe, but central to any low carbon, secure energy future. And its vociferous PR campaign and highly effective lobby network, has been welcomed by parts of the European Commission.A year on from Fukushima, the policy ramifications are still being felt across the EU, particularly in some member states. While the industry concedes that the accident “had a major impact on the EU institutional agenda,” has been lobbying hard to minimise these impacts, trying to make sure that Fukushima does not compromise the potential for nuclear new build in the EU.As the European authorities undertake a serious of “stress tests” to assess the risk of a Fukushima-type disaster affecting a European nuclear power plant, the industry’s carefully crafted public relations message is that safety remains its top priority.And the campaign has been successful. Despite the world’s worst nuclear accident for a generation, the nuclear industry, operating with an estimated 20 million euro lobby budget and some 150-200 lobbyists in Brussels, remains extremely dominant.The lobby is so powerful that, despite Fukushima, nuclear remains at the heart of European Commission’s proposals for a clean energy future. Meanwhile over in the European Parliament, some policy analysts believe that within the European Parliament, the nuclear lobby is even more powerful than it was before. This means that while some member states such as Germany and Italy may be ditching nuclear, in Brussels, the industry believes the future still looks bright for nuclear power.The industry’s web of influence starts with powerful lobby groups such as Foratom and nuclear companies such as E.ON and EDF, who appear to be welcome visitors at DG Energy, the Commission department in charge of nuclear power.The Commission has also created platforms for the lobby to influence policy such as advisory groups and technology platforms such as the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP). Finally the nuclear lobby spreads its influence via pro-nuclear MEPs such as British Conservative Giles Chichester.Despite nuclear’s friends in Brussels, there are many who believe that the industry’s influence is waning further afield. There are two main factors behind this: the new generation of nuclear reactors that were produced post Chernobyl have not lived up to their promise. But, more importantly, in the current financial climate, banks have been unwilling to provide finance.In addition, in January 2012 a formal complaint about subsidies for nuclear power was sent to the European Commission which, if upheld, would make it unlikely that any new nuclear power stations will be built in the EU.Despite these setbacks, the nuclear lobby is arguing that nuclear remains central to EU energy policy, regardless of Fukushima. The energy journal Platts, disagrees. “Turning a blind eye to Fukushima is clearly not sustainable,” it argues.Read the full report as a pdf here: 
 

Polluters in Peru blog

In the face of a disastrous Lima Outcome for local communities, their environments and the climate, many of the climate justice groups attending COP20 released a joint statement in response to what countries had agreed to, as well setting our own agenda.
As the end of the UN climate talks in Lima spell misery for billions already affected or soon to be, Corporate Europe Observatory accuses the dirty energy industry of driving the world off a climate cliff on the road to Paris. CEO gives its response.
The UN climate talks in Lima, COP20, have had the pervasive influence of business all over them. Yet despite this, business is still not happy with the influence it has on the talks and wants a greater role.
As the UN climate talks – COP20 – wrap up in Lima, CEO took part in a press conference to reflect on what two weeks of negotiations mean for climate justice and the road to Paris.
The 'cash for access' scandal in the UK has taken the House of Commons by storm and prompted a vote about banning certain second jobs for MPs. CEO looks at what the scandal shows us about the loopholes in the European Parliament's own rules and procedures.
Corporate Europe Observatory analyses the UK government's grid of stakeholders working on TTIP which clearly illustrates how the forces for and against the EU-US trade deal are shaping up.
The recent cases of former MEPs going through the revolving door, including a number of UK Liberal Democrats, has once again shown why the European Parliament needs to draw up new rules to tackle the risk of any possible conflicts of interest arising.
Many who walked past the BNP Paribas Fortis' central Brussels branch during their lunch break yesterday were surprised by what they saw: activists-turned-bailiffs removing tables, chairs and other materials from the building, leaving them out on the pavement. At a time of severe cuts to social spending in Belgium because all the money has been spent bailing out the banks, citizens repossessed bank furniture as the first step in recouping the billions of Euros that BNP Paribas – who controversially bought Begian bank Fortis in 2009 – helped its client avoid via its 214 branches located in tax havens.

Alternative Trade Mandate

Corporate Europe Forum