Leaked reports indicate the European commissioner in charge of state aid, Joaquín Almunia, is set to recommend approving plans by the UK government to give public support for the construction of a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley (1). Commissioner Almunia was today questioned by Green MEPs on the reports on the Hinkley C state aid case in the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee. Commenting on the reports, UK Green MEP and economics spokesperson Molly Scott Cato said:
"There can be no doubt that the generous deal being offered by the UK government to EDF on Hinkley C amounts to illegal state aid under EU rules (1). It would be a scandal if the European Commission decided to turn a blind eye as some kind of naive sop to David Cameron and the Tory-led government, with a view to rallying their support for Europe.
"This huge implicit subsidy for Hinkley will make it impossible for those who generate electricity in a clean and sustainable way to compete. As such, it has potentially massive implications for the EU energy market and the goal to boost the share of clean, safe and home-grown renewable energies, and the domestic jobs they create. Regardless of what commissioner Almunia recommends, this deal requires the approval of the entire college of EU commissioners. We are urging those commissioners sceptical of this deal to make their voices heard and ensure this illegal state aid is not waved through. We will also be rallying cross-party support in the European Parliament against this retrograde move."
(1) Under the contract for the construction of the Hinkley C reactor, Electricité de France (EDF) would receive a guaranteed price £92.50 per MWh (roughly twice the current wholesale price), as well as a credit guarantee of £10bn (€12.7bn) from the UK government.