Germany to vote against EU plan to label nuclear as green but won’t sue

BERLIN — Germany will vote against the European Commission’s controversial “taxonomy” proposal that classes nuclear energy as green but won’t file a lawsuit against it, German officials told POLITICO.

A German finance ministry official told POLITICO that Berlin notified the French Council presidency that it plans to vote against the measure. France, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, had asked countries to indicate by Friday how they plan to vote on the proposal.

The Commission presented its long-awaited green labeling system for investments in the energy sector at the end of last year. The fact that nuclear energy is classified as a green technology — something that France had pushed for — immediately caused a strong backlash from the German government and especially ministers from the Green party, which has opposed nuclear energy since its foundation some 40 years ago.

However, the proposal was widely seen as a fudge intended to placate both Paris and Berlin as it also attached a green label to natural gas, which Germany has insisted is essential as a transition technology as it switches to renewables.

The German Greens have since been pushing to not only reject the Commission proposal but also follow Austria’s example and file a lawsuit against the plan. But the other two coalition partners in the German government — the Social Democrats of Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the liberal Free Democratic Party of Finance Minister Christian Lindner — have been warier about such action. Under a deal reached by the three coalition partners, Berlin will now vote against the proposal but won’t take the Commission to court.

“The German government … will not file a lawsuit because there was no agreement on this,” the finance ministry official said.

That makes Germany’s vote largely symbolic because it would require a “supermajority” of at least two-thirds of the EU’s 27 countries, representing 65 percent of the bloc’s population, to block the EU plan. So far, only a minority of countries such as Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Spain have been critical of the proposal.

The proposal could also be stopped if a majority of the European Parliament voted against it, but that appears unlikely.