MEPs Kill Nuclear Moratorium, Bulgarian Rightists, Leftists Vote 'Against'
The European Parliament has rejected a proposal for imposing a moratorium on the launch and construction of new nuclear power plants across the European Union, which could have affected Bulgaria's project for a 2nd NPP in Belene.
MEPs remained divided over the future of nuclear energy in Europe, and the so called resolution on nuclear safety in Europe by was rejected by 264 votes in favor, 300 against, and 61 abstentions.
There were various points of disagreement between political groups, which in the end led to a majority rejecting the final text.
The defeated resolution on nuclear safety in Europe had initially attracted multi-partisan support as it was drafted jointly by all major groups in the EP – the European People's Party, the Socialists, the Liberals, and the Greens.
The MEPs, however, did not vote along party lines but divided according to their countries' national interests, with deputies from pro-nuclear states opposing adamantly the overall resolution.
The moratorium on the construction and launch of new nuclear facilities envisaged in the draft resolution was the major bone of contention.
Both Bulgarian rightist MEPs from the ruling party GERB and the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party MEPs voted against the resolution.
Before the vote, the supporters of the proposal had insisted that the moratorium is in force at least until stress tests - comprehensive risk and safety assessments - are conducted at all EU plants.
Earlier this week the MEPs agreed on the need to conduct stress tests at EU plants, but some groups criticised the voluntary and national approach proposed by the Commission.
Energy Commissioner G?nther Oettinger said the Commission is "currently drafting a list of criteria (for the stress tests) that will be sent to the EP and made public" by the end of May.
The tests will assess if nuclear plants can withstand disasters or attacks.
"National regulators will be carrying out tests". It's currently not possible to make such decisions on nuclear power at an EU level, he said.
German Green Rebecca Harms also had concerns that the stress tests would be "suspicious", because national authorities will be responsible.
"It's a club, all of these people have known each other for decades and they have always tolerated slight departures from the norm".
However, British Conservative Giles Chichester said, "there is a world of difference between the 15 year-old reactors in Japan and the modern ones in Europe, and a world of difference in seismic risk...A nuclear moratorium would mean acting without evidence. We need to analyse the situation, not to act in haste".
In spite of Japan's crisis, the EU's warning and the promise to sever ties with Russia, Bulgaria has bowed to Moscow's nuclear demands in the most scandalous and sneaky possible way.
The head of the National Electric Company NEK Krasimir Parvanov signed on Tuesday an agreement with Rosatom's subsidiary Atomstroyexport that potentially threatens Bulgaria's national interests by obliging the Bulgarian government to reach a final agreement with the Russians on Belene by June 1, 2001.
The sneaky move was slammed by the Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov and led to Parvanov's dismissal, which was eventually overturned by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
Borisov harshly criticized the minister's hasty and emotional reaction and threatened him with being kicked out of office.
It is still an open question whether the signed document is legally binding.
This week's development came months after Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov unexpectedly said the construction on the planned Belene nuclear power plant had been suspended.
Borisov's U-turn fuelled suspicions that links between the mafia and the political system run deep in the energy sector. The man believed to be pulling the strings behind the curtains, the back seat ruler, is Valentin Zlatev, CEO of Lukoil Bulgaria. It was only after he intervened in the talks for Belene that Borisov suddenly changed his mind in favor of the project.
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