Swiss vote for nuclear phase-out

The Swiss have voted on Sunday in a referendum in favour of phasing out nuclear power and promoting renewable energies. Europe's commentators welcome the move but see room for improvement in the new energy law.

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Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

A transition, but no revolution

This was the only viable decision, Corriere del Ticino concludes:

“The decision to phase out nuclear power in the medium term is historic, but it was guided more by economic than political considerations. In today's market context, which is unlikely to change anytime soon, it would be impossible to find anyone willing to invest in new nuclear power plants. … This is a turning point, not a revolution. Existing subsidies for renewable energies will gradually be increased. At the same time it should be said that if in addition to the thousands of renewable energy projects that have already started another 37,000 are waiting for the green light, it's clear that awareness of the issue is already strong and that the willingness to make changes is widespread. Therefore Switzerland is not leaping into the void. With renewable energies it can now gain ground in those areas where the sector has long since established its dominance in other countries.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Private households will have to foot the bill

The new energy law testifies to a lack of courage regarding economic principles, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung laments:

“It is clever of the Swiss to allow their nuclear power plants to stay in operation as long as they can be operated safely - unlike the Germans. This buys them time to replace the supplies that will be lost. But at the same time the parliament, with the help of various lobby groups, has put together a large package of subsidies aimed not just at boosting the production of renewable energies but also at helping out struggling hydroelectric power plants. … Private households will end up paying the price in the form of higher electricity rates. Moreover the sealing of the market hampers an electricity deal with the EU. And such a deal would guarantee Switzerland's energy supplies far more effectively than the dirigiste, immature energy bill that the Swiss have now approved.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Now that's politics!

Belgium can learn a thing or two from the Swiss energy transformation, De Standaard stresses:

“Switzerland's politicians must be credited for having a vision, forming it into a plan, and selling this plan so enthusiastically that the people were able to support it. That's how politics should be done: deciding in favour of something and then working to ensure that it happens. What happened in Switzerland stands in strong contrast to what's taking place in Flanders and Belgium as a whole. We're one of the richest countries in the world. Like Switzerland, Norway and Denmark, we have all it takes to implement radical environmental and climate decisions. But ... the politicians often lack vision, conviction and the corresponding powers of persuasion.”