Germany: Is shutting down nuclear illegal?

17 March 2011

, 17 March 2011

Following the decision by Angela Merkel to submit all the nuclear power plants in Germany to safety inspections and to unplug seven of them from the grid for a three-month moratorium, the legal battle has begun. “Is this turning point in nuclear power on shaky, leaky ground?” headlinesHandelsblatt. The government is relying particularly heavily on the notion of a state of emergency to justify its policy. But in the absence of a genuine state of emergency in Germany, this decision could lead to an impasse. Energy companies have announced their intention to “scrutinise the legality of the decision." The latter implies serious consequences for the industry, the economic daily reports. During the three-month moratorium, Eon, RWE and Vattenfall stand to lose about 500 million euros. And if the seven plants should be shut down for good, the losses would run into the billions – money that the government, if it loses the court battle, will have to reimburse the companies.