Europe should build more nuclear plants, says Finn PM

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Series Details Vol.8, No.8, 28.2.02, p6
Publication Date 28/02/2002
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Date: 28/02/02

By Jyrki Karvinen

PAAVO Lipponen, the Finnish prime minister, has called on the EU to rethink its energy policy and put more emphasis on nuclear power.

His country is currently the only member state willing to consider building new nuclear plants, and Lipponen believes others should follow suit if they want to boost security of supply.

'The EU needs new nuclear power reactors,' he said, warning against over-reliance on the 'fossil interests' prevalent across the rest of the Union.

Lipponen wants the EU to promote an energy policy that is 'fair' to the countries applying to join the Union.

He claimed that the 1992 decision by G7 leaders to call for the closure of Soviet-type reactors discriminated in particular against central European states such as Slovakia, which he described as 'a leading country in nuclear power technology'.

'For many applicant nations, nuclear power generators are a significant economic asset,' added Lipponen.

He pointed out that Finland had a Russian-designed WWR-type nuclear reactor at Lovisa on the south-eastern coast, which was equipped with Western technology and was among the world's safest and most efficient plants.

He said the same applied to many of the enlargement states.

Lipponen's government is committed to a policy of energy diversity, with the aim of cutting dependence on imported electricity. The Finnish Parliament is soon to decide whether to build a fifth nuclear reactor.

Neighbouring Sweden decided years ago to phase out nuclear energy completely. But Lipponen is sceptical that Stockholm will finish the job. 'That'll be the day,' he said with a smile.

Despite his differences on nuclear policy with Sweden, Lipponen believes that the 'Northern Dimension' countries will grow in strength following the Danish presidency of the EU in the second half of the year.

He was dismissive of speculation that the opposite would happen at the end of Copenhagen's stint in charge on 31 December.

On other issues, Lipponen said he was concerned that the leadership of the Convention on the future of Europe could undermine its objectives if it seeks to carry out a 'pre-cooked' programme agreed by a directoire of big member states.

'We in Finland will be watching carefully to see that the Convention does not try to carry out a programme decided ahead of time by a small group,' he added.

He also called for a less secretive Council secretariat, saying the EU needed 'a change of culture' from 'bad corporate governance'.

On enlargement, the prime minister urged the EU to complete accession negotiations by the end of this year.

He is optimistic that solutions will be found to some of the thorny chapters, such as agriculture, which risk stalling the process.

'The point of EU membership is not to shut down hundreds of thousands of small Polish farms, but to embark on a sustainable reform,' he said.

Lipponen added that he believes sufficiently long transition periods can be agreed.

Paavo Lipponen, the Finnish Prime Minister, has called on the EU to rethink its energy policy and put more emphasis on nuclear power.

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