The commission, which was established to report on the future of nuclear power, is holding its final meeting this Saturday in Berlin and could still alter the final report. The draft report, which news agency DPA has seen, states: “The ethics commission is of the firm belief that an exit can be completed within a decade.”
The findings are to be submitted to Chancellor Merkel on Saturday evening or Sunday, ahead of a meeting of the coalition of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) on Sunday evening. The government will then decide on a final date for the country's nuclear exit, which has been brought forward in the aftermath of the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan.
The report states that the disaster in Japan had “made the risks of nuclear energy much clearer to many people in Germany.”
In March, Merkel reversed a 2010 decision to extend the lifespan of the country's nuclear power plants. She also ordered the temporary closure of the country's seven oldest reactors. Her U-turn on nuclear policy followed a string of regional election upsets which have seen support wane for the government parties as voters turned to the Greens, a party that has consistently opposed nuclear energy.
On Friday, Germany's state environment ministers jointly called for the seven oldest plants to be shut down permanently. The 16 ministers also demanded "the legally earliest possible exit from nuclear energy" while raising the mix of power from renewable energy to 40 percent by at least 2020.
While the government makes its deliberations this weekend, many Germans are taking to the streets to keep up the pressure for a rapid exit from nuclear power. Tens of thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators are expected to attend marches in 20 cities, with organizers estimating at least 30,000 will attend the rally in Berlin alone.