News May 2013

1 May 2013

Nuclear Subsidies

A prominent clean energy campaigner has been banned from the European Energy Forum after tweeting remarks made by the EU’s energy commissioner describing the UK’s plan to hand out long-term contracts to nuclear companies as “Soviet”. Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger’s putdown of the €16.5-billion British plan will likely be met with furrowed brows in London, where the 35-40-year contracts have proved controversial to some because of their length, nature and the scale of the subsidy involved. Oettinger’s remark was made on 19 February at a meeting of the European Energy Forum, which brings together MEPs and leaders of industry, in meetings at which the Chatham House rule was assumed, although not advertised or announced. The Chatham House rule, which is often used in press briefings, protects the anonymity of speakers, while allowing the information they impart to be reported. But Mark Johnston, a well-known environmental expert on the Brussels scene, tweeted Oettinger’s unscripted comment, which EurActiv understands was made in response to a “knockabout” comment by a high-profile UKIP MEP. It was one of several colourful – and irreverent – remarks by the commissioner at the meeting. “When non-attribution is sought, I always respect it,” Johnston told EurActiv. “But when no such request is made, as was the case in this dinner, then attribution is fair comment.” Johnston, an external advisor to the European Policy Centre, and website, decided to tweet and damn the consequences. “That Commissioner Oettinger’s description of UK plans was widely applauded by many diners shows, I think, that there was a ring of truth to it and that concern was shared by others present,” he said.

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Posted: 1 May 2013