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Government split over nuclear power extension

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Government split over nuclear power extension
Photo: DPA
16:01 CEST+02:00
The government coalition parties Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Free Democratic Party (FDP) are attempting to force their own environment minister to extend the lifespans of nuclear power stations.

CDU parliamentary faction leader Volker Kauder and his FDP opposite number Birgit Homburger have agreed to try and alter Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen's current proposal for the extension of nuclear power in Germany.

Röttgen's proposed law would extend the lifespan of Germany's nuclear power stations by ten years, but various elements in his party, as well as the FDP, including Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle, believe that an extension of 15 years is necessary.

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's coalition of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green party in 2000 agreed to phase out nuclear power in Germany by 2020, closing nuclear power stations one at a time according to their age. But the current government is expected to finally agree an extension in September. However, splits have emerged within the government over how long the extension should last.

A spokeswoman for the CDU's parliamentary faction said on Saturday, "If the proposals contain inadequate lifespans, we will apply for an alteration." Röttgen responded by saying, "Our motto must be: as long as necessary, and not as long as possible."

The government is expected to present its energy policy concept, and settle the question of nuclear power stations lifespans, by the end of August, while the final decision on Röttgen's proposal is expected on September 28.

Röttgen also cited the new state premier of Lower Saxony David McAllister, of the CDU, who has called for a cautious approach to extending lifespans. "McAllister said exactly the right thing: the future belongs to renewable energy. Nuclear power is a bridge to that: the shorter the better."

The anti-nuclear organisation "Ausgestrahlt" (Radiated) wants to use the division for its campaign. "Whenever the government is divided, protest movements can make the difference. That is why will go on the offensive in the coming weeks," it announced on Saturday.

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