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Sarkozy pledges €1bn for nuclear

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made his commitment to nuclear energy clear with a €1 billion investment package.

At a time when several neighbouring countries, including Germany, are phasing out or expressing doubts over nuclear power, Sarkozy is backing expansion, with much of the money going towards developing fourth generation technologies.

The president announced on 27 June that he would plough €1bn from his government’s €35bn stimulus package into nuclear energy, the source of most of France’s electricity. He added that nuclear safety would be a top priority.

Sarkozy described calls to halt nuclear power as “curious”. Unless the country developed fourth generation reactors, he said, it would be left with old, less safe reactors: “That doesn’t make any sense.”

A further €1.35bn would be invested in renewable energy, Sarkozy said, noting in particular his commitment to developing a carbon capture and storage demonstration project in Florange, north-east France.

The president revealed the plans in a speech to mark two years since the unveiling of the stimulus package, about €20bn of which has been earmarked for specific projects.

Sarkozy offered a brief summary of how some of the €22bn promised for higher education and research has been spent, including €3bn for 100 laboratories of excellence and €2bn for six technology institutes—partnerships between public research organisations and private sector partners.