With many Europeans worried about what nuclear power might mean for their future, against the backdrop of events in Japan, euronews asked a set of questions on the margins of debate taking place in the European Parliament.
These questions were put to Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who has proposed rigorously testing all the nuclear power plants in the European Union, and to Green party MEP Michèle Rivasi.
Are we going to be able to trust the stress tests?
Oettinger: “They will move EU-wide safety ahead towards strict common standards, clear rules, in view of what is happening in Japan. I am sure, like everybody, that the member states, companies and regulators will participate, and that everybody will pay attention to the results.”
Rivasi: “There are many risks we have not evaluated. We can come at this any way you want but nature will be inventive. Her incredible strength can flatten a whole country.”
Can the EU go without nuclear power, give it up?
Oettinger: “Nuclear will be a part of the member states’ energy mix for a long time to come. Security and a new risk analysis are that much more important because of this.”
Rivasi: “I get the feeling here that we don’t want to give up nuclear energy. Consumption will keep on growing. We’re in a system of infinite growth and want to increase nuclear, but when there’s an accident like in Japan it’s a catastrophe, even an apocalypse.”
What future energy mix alternatives are available?
Oettinger: “We will answer that question little by little with our energy roadmap, our long-term strategy, by developing the energy mix after 2020 until 2050.”
Rivasi: “Innovation adding value to the development of other forms of energy, notably from renewable sources, would encourage countries not to choose nuclear. But the European Commission’s position is rather that nuclear is an option which must be developed.”