Companies linked to the Kremlin lobbied in Brussels to label as green investments in nuclear energy and gas

The European Commission decided, last February and after many comings and goings, to bet on labeling as green investments in nuclear energy and gas. They are only some, temporarily, with some conditions and it is not that Brussels asks to build more nuclear power plants either. This is what has been baptized as investment taxonomy.

The decision, controversial at the time, was executed through a delegated act -instead of a legislative process-, which already circulated last New Year's Eve, which throughout January was studied by governments and civil society without winning a single adept and which was finally adopted by Brussels in February. The delegated act of the Community Executive can be overturned in the European Parliament (if 353 MEPs vote against it) and if it is rejected by at least 20 countries representing at least 65% of the EU population.

On the contrary, the role of nuclear energy and natural gas generates great division among the 27. France, for example, leads the group in favor of nuclear power; and Germany, by contrast, is among the biggest supporters of endorsing natural gas.

But Brussels understands that its inclusion can help “move investments from coal and help the energy transition, we have to address the green transition and use the tools that help us. These two energies can serve as a bridge to renewable energies. It is a pragmatic approach”.

According to a study published Tuesday by Greenpeace, companies linked to the Kremlin lobbied in Brussels to label as green investments in nuclear energy and gas.

Thus, according to the environmental entity, “the Russian energy companies Gazprom, Lukoil and Rosatom, closely linked to the Kremlin, maneuvered in Brussels to influence the inclusion of fossil gas and nuclear energy in the EU sustainable investment taxonomy. The authors of the research compare the network of influences with matrioskas, the classic Russian dolls, to illustrate that these companies hid inside others to operate”.

The research has also revealed that “Russia will be one of the main beneficiaries of the planned inclusion of gas and nuclear energy [si no se aprueba el embargo] on the EU's sustainable investment list, which will give Vladimir Putin greater bargaining power over the EU and provide him with money to fuel the war in Ukraine."

According to the Greenpeace study, “Russian energy companies have met with EU commissioners and senior officials, either directly or through affiliates and lobby groups, at least 18 times since the European Commission published its action on sustainable financing, in March 2018”.

“Russia could earn an additional €4 billion a year from an expansion of gas trading capacity by entering the taxonomy, which would mean a total of €32 billion by 2030, while the inclusion of nuclear energy in the This taxonomy would allow Rosatom, a Russian state-owned nuclear power company with strong business links to the European nuclear industry, to secure a share of an estimated €500 billion potential investment in new EU nuclear capacity.

Russia supplies 45% of Europe's gas and 20% of its enriched uranium. Russia also provides technical maintenance services at 18 Russian-designed nuclear power plants in the EU, most of them in Central and Eastern Europe, and stores large amounts of radioactive waste from the EU, including that produced in countries such as France, Germany and Bulgaria, it explains. Greenpeace: “To date, imports of Russian fossil gas, gas turbines, uranium and other nuclear services have been exempt from sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.”

The European Commission has proposed to ban Russian companies from hiring EU lobbyists and public relations firms in the future, but this has yet to be approved by EU governments in the sixth sanctions package, which is currently in discussion

According to the Greenpeace report: “Gazprom exerted its influence on the taxonomy through its German subsidiary Gazprom Germania, which until recently operated the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project on behalf of Gazprom. Gazprom, through its subsidiaries, was represented at the taxonomy debate in Brussels by the lobbying associations Gas Infrastructure Europe, GasNaturally and the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance. It is a member of the European Energy Forum and, also through its subsidiaries, the Brussels Energy Club, two groups that have held events with EU officials on taxonomy behind closed doors”.

In addition, the environmental entity points out that, until March 2022, “Lukoil was a member of BusinessEurope, where he held an influential position in the BusinessEurope Business Support and Advice Group. BusinessEurope held at least 11 high-level meetings with EU officials focused exclusively on taxonomy while Lukoil was a member. Lukoil also remains a member of FuelsEurope, which lists taxonomy as one of the main dossiers it lobbies for.”

Rosatom, for its part, “ exerted its influence on the taxonomy through its deep connections at all levels of the European nuclear industry, most notably with the French state-owned nuclear power provider EDF, and through the joint venture of its subsidiary RAOS Project with the Finnish company Fennovoima to build the Hanhikivi nuclear power plant. Rosatom also wielded considerable influence on taxonomy as a member of the board of directors of the World Nuclear Association, including as a platinum sponsor of the 2021 World Nuclear Exhibition, where the keynote speech was delivered by European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson. .

“Using data from the EU Transparency Register and other open sources, the report documents the three companies' use of 'Russian doll lobbying techniques' to influence the EU taxonomy through subsidiaries, joint ventures and industrial associations”, says the investigation.

According to Greenpeace, “Russia's war in Ukraine has once again put Europe's dependence on Russian gas in the spotlight. Since the beginning of the invasion, the EU has paid Putin almost 44 billion euros for fossil gas. If the new gas taxonomy rules are fully used, Europe could fill Russia's coffers with an additional €4 billion a year. And nuclear power is not a solution as the EU nuclear industry is highly dependent on Rosatom and highly interconnected with it. Allowing investments in nuclear energy to increase is playing into the hands of Russia, making it difficult for the EU to reduce its dependence on this country”.

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