President Wulff Signs Energy and Climate Package Laws, Including Nuclear Power Extension

Federal President Chrisian Wulff today signed the four laws of the energy and climate package and ordered the laws to be promulgated. The package includes the controversial 11th amendment of the Atomic Energy Act (Atomgesetz – AtG) with the extension of the operating times of the German nuclear power plants.

The energy and climate package had been decided by the Bundestag (German Parliament) on 28 October. On 26 November, the Bundesrat (Federal Council) decided not to raise objections against the package. It consists of four key elements:

  1. The 11th amendment of the AtG allocating additional generation quantities to the German nuclear power plants, leading to an average extension of the plants’ operating time of 12 years;
  2. The 12th amendment of AtG adding provisions for the transposition of Directive 2009/71/Euratom, further safety requirements for nuclear power plants, and provisions allowing expropriation in favour of the exploration and operation of nuclear waste disposal sites;
  3. The new nuclear fuel rod tax law introducing a tax on nuclear fuel rods, aimed at raising EUR 2.3 billion per year; and
  4. The law on a new Energie- und Klimafonds (Energy and Climate Fund – EKFG), creating a special purpose energy and climate fund for the promotion of an environmentally-friendly, reliable and affordable energy supply.

The constitutionality of the extension of the operating time is very controversial. Pursuant to Article 82(1)(1) of the German Constitution (Grundgesetz), laws enacted in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law have to be certified by the Federal President and promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette. In his press release, the Federal President stated that, after intensive and careful review of all constitutional aspects, he saw no legal reason against the promulgation of the act containing the nuclear power extension.

It is expected that the 11th amendment will be challenged before the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) by several SPD-led states as well as Members of the Bundestag from the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green party.

Sources: Press Release Federal President; Spiegel Online

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