'Exceptional circumstances': Belgium to decide on nuclear exit soon

'Exceptional circumstances': Belgium to decide on nuclear exit soon
Doel power station, one of Belgium's nuclear plants. © Trougnouf/Wikimedia

Belgium will soon meet to discuss the country's possible nuclear exit, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said during a press conference about the measures against the soaring energy prices.

On Tuesday the Federal Government announced a package of measures to lower gas and electricity bills – which include a reduction in VAT on electricity and gas, and lower excise duties on diesel and petrol. However, the decision about whether or not the country should keep its nuclear power plants open has not yet been made.

"As agreed, we are expecting some reports from Elia (Belgian's Electricity System Operator) regarding the reworking of the Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM) auction. I think the date for that is well-known by now: 18 March," said De Croo. "And as a reminder: today is 15 March."

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In December 2021, Belgium reached an agreement on a nuclear phase-out, committing to close all nuclear power plants in the country by 2025. However, due to the current crisis in the gas and electricity markets and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the planned phase-out has increasingly been under discussion in recent weeks.

If the nuclear power plants are to remain open after all, the government would again have to consult French energy company Engie, which is currently operating the plants.

"I am not talking about a decision that has yet to be made, but these are exceptional circumstances, then you can also make exceptional agreements," De Croo said. "At a time like now, making an energy-related decision is not easy."

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