June 14. 2024. 1:02

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Franco-German lawmakers want to revive energy cooperation between the EU powerhouses

The Franco-German parliamentary assembly is set to adopt a declaration advising Paris and Berlin to mend their differences in energy policy and begin moving on hydrogen and geothermal.

In matters of energy, the relationship between Paris and Berlin is awry. While France is rallying support for nuclear power, Germany is the strongest backer of a renewable-based approach.

Lawmakers from both countries want to mend the cracks by focusing on common interests.

“In the last two years, there has been too much antagonism between France and Germany, but Franco-German energy is needed to move Europe forward,” said Andreas Jung, a centre-right CDU (EPP) lawmaker from Germany.

To bridge the energy policy gap, a joint position paper in German and French will be adopted by the 100-lawmaker plenary session on 24 June.

The assembly, comprising 100 lawmakers from both national parliaments, meets twice a year. It coordinates between the two national assemblies but cannot make laws.

While the touchy ‘nuclear versus renewables’ issue was kept out of the joint paper as much as possible, the document does feature plans bound to affect Europe.

For one, France and Germany should work on a “shared, European hydrogen strategy until 2025” and such a document would be a de facto foundation to update the current EU hydrogen strategy, which dates from 2020.

While renewable-based ‘green’ hydrogen is put forward as the end goal, the paper declares openness to “low-emission variants” – i.e. nuclear hydrogen.

“France will also produce hydrogen from nuclear power. Openness in the hydrogen ramp-up for all colours is a prerequisite for a common strategy with a large-scale European infrastructure,” Jung explained.

However the text still recognises the ‘primacy’ of green hydrogen, even in the sector’s initial ramp up stage. This provision was pushed by the German Greens and the centre-left SPD, Euractiv understands.

While most energy sources already benefit from dedicated EU strategies, geothermal has yet to get its own.

The joint position puts its weight behind a “European strategy to support geothermal energy”, offering to establish a joint French-German position on the technology by 2025.

“Geothermal energy offers great potential in the Franco-German border region in the Upper Rhine,” said Jung, who hopes to simultaneously address two issues: climate change and the Franco-German friendship.

Building out geothermal requires “joint responses to concerns – with a cross-border framework for technologies, authorisations and security” the centre-right politician explained.

In a spirit of cooperation, the paper added, the two countries ought to “continue to drive forward the expansion of the European grids in a cross-border and intelligent manner”.

Building on efforts to bring Warsaw into the fold in military and foreign policy matters, the lawmakers want a Franco-German-Polish energy forum to “develop a strategy to strengthen cooperation between [the countries’] network operators.”

Nuclear gets a minor mention too, in a way that even the Greens, who traditionally oppose it, cannot disagree with. Research on “nuclear safety and proliferation resistance” – meaning ways to prevent the spread of nuclear arms – should continue, the paper stated.

While largely focused on uncontentious issues, the paper lays the ground for a deeper rapprochement between Germany and Paris on energy matters.

The heavy involvement of the German conservatives in the initiative suggests that further energy cooperation between the countries is likely as the conservatives are projected to come to power in Germany in late 2025.

Read more with Euractiv

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