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Germany's Gabriel slams nuclear subsidies ahead of EU ministers' meeting

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has ruled out supporting EU subsidies for nuclear energy projects. His comments came ahead of a meeting of energy ministers.

Gabriel was adamant on Thursday that atomic energy was the most expensive form of power generation that also bore "significant risks" to people and the environment.

"We will absolutely not agree to proposals looking to subsidize nuclear energy through public funds, i.e. tax money in Europe," he said ahead of a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels on Thursday.

The German economy minister was referring to billions of euros in subsidies approved by the previous EU Commission last October for the building of a nuclear power plant dubbed Hinkley Point in the southwestern UK county of Somerset. Gabriel said that some countries were still in favor of nuclear subsidies but that there was "no way" Germany would agree to them.

Environmental activist group Greenpeace said on Wednesday it would take the EU Commission to court over the decision. The organization argues that the subsidy was anti-competitive as it would make nuclear energy cheaper, at the expense of renewables.

The current EU Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, has made achieving an EU-wide energy union one of its priorities. It aims to better connect and modernize Europe's grids, make Europe less dependent on Russian gas and break down barriers to competition.

Last October, EU leaders agreed on a new target for the reduction of greenhouse gases - members states will aim to cut harmful emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared with the benchmark level, which dates back to 1990. They also agreed to draw at least 27 percent of energy used in the EU from renewable sources.

ng/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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