As Belgium struggles to stay on track for a nuclear phase-out by 2025, an interview Deputy Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR) gave to Le Soir is being called an act of “sabotage,” according to De Standaard.
The interview aired during ongoing meetings between ministers debating whether it will truly be possible to shut down all of Belgium’s seven nuclear plants without risking an energy shortage or disrupting prices.
“We agreed to extend two nuclear power plants if there is a problem. Well, there is a problem,” Wilmès said in the interview.
She argued in favour of continuing both plan A (the nuclear phase-out) and plan B (keeping two nuclear power plants open), saying that the complete nuclear phase-out should be 'consolidated' by retaining the possibility of activating a 'nuclear safety net.’
Garantir l’approvisionnement de l’énergie, maîtriser les prix et veiller à l’indépendance énergétique du pays sont des priorités. Le prolongement du nucléaire est un filet de sécurité qui doit être avalisé par la majorité gouvernementale. Nous y travaillons. @lapremiere pic.twitter.com/sLVDWTqEV7— Sophie Wilmès (@Sophie_Wilmes) December 21, 2021
While some politicians have openly voiced support for slowing the nuclear phase-out and keeping a few of Belgium’s plants running, or even abandoning the phase-out plan altogether, for one of the ministers to do so was striking.
Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) seemed especially irked by the stance publicly shared during ongoing private discussions.
“You have to make a distinction between the Government and the spectacle,” he said in an interview with Humo.
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“I was also in the previous Government and the difference with my team is immense. We treat each other with respect. Sometimes there is a difficult moment, but our decisions are much more important.”
Wilmès’ stance puts pressure on De Croo and most of the coalition partners to make a decision about the nuclear exit as soon as possible, but Wilmès herself suggested that an agreement might not be possible this year.