A fight over nuclear power is heating up in the European Union. While the Czech Republic and other Central and Eastern European states insist that the technology is vital to their transition from coal-generated energy, others in the bloc want to cut it out of the equation. The outcome of the debate could also help determine the fate of a stalled tender to build a new reactor at Dukovany, one of the country’s two existing nuclear power plants.
Hopes in Prague were boosted in March when the Joint Research Center, an expert group for the European Commission, delivered a report stating that nuclear power qualifies as a “sustainable” source of energy. The Czechs and regional neighbors welcomed the report as a critical step toward the inclusion of nuclear power in the EU’s classification of which energy sources should be investment targets for the bloc’s push to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
That’s vital for the Czech government, which insists that it cannot hit the targets for transitioning to a low-carbon economy without expanding its fleet of nuclear reactors. “We have to push it through, even if we were to breach European law,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said in 2018 of the strategy to build new nuclear units.