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EUROPEAN UNION

‘No need to be nasty over Brexit talks’: Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said the European Union has "has no reason to be nasty in the negotiations " with Britain about its exit from the bloc.

‘No need to be nasty over Brexit talks’: Merkel
An amicable divorce? Photo: AFP

Merkel also insisted that deterring other countries from leaving the EU should not be a priority in the talks.

Merkel did however say that Britain's exit talks should not “drag on forever” and that until they were completed, Britain would remain a fully-fledged EU member “with all the rights and responsibilities”.

“We have to follow the rules of the game,” she said.

Merkel was speaking after several EU foreign ministers – including Germany's – had urged Britain to quickly activate its exit.

“It shouldn't take forever, that's right, but I would not fight for a short timeframe,” she said.

She added that she was seeking an “objective, good” climate in the talks with Britain, which “must be conducted properly”.

Merkel also emphasised that even from outside the EU, “Great Britain will remain a close partner with close economic ties to us.”

Her remarks suggest that the weekend has brought Britain and Europe no closer to clarity on the implications of Thursday’s British referendum on leaving the EU.

Merkel’s cautious approach put her at odds with some of her governing coalition partners in Germany.

They are not in agreement on whether the vote, though technically non-binding on the British parliament, should lead immediately to negotiations with the 27 other EU member states on a formal exit strategy. 

EUROPEAN UNION

EU court rejects Austria case against Hungary nuclear plant

The EU's second highest court on Wednesday rejected a complaint by Austria against a European Commission decision to approve the expansion of a nuclear plant in neighbouring Hungary with Russian aid.

EU court rejects Austria case against Hungary nuclear plant

Staunchly anti-nuclear Austria lodged the legal complaint in 2018 after the European Union’s executive arm allowed the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant outside the Hungarian capital Budapest with a 10-billion-euro ($12.4 billion) Russian loan.

The plant is Hungary’s only nuclear facility and supplies around 40 percent of its electricity needs.

In its decision the commission judged that the project met EU rules on state aid, but Austria disputed this.

The General Court of the EU ruled Wednesday that “member states are free to determine the composition of their own energy mix and that the Commission cannot require that state financing be allocated to alternative energy sources.”

READ ALSO: Why is Austria so anti nuclear power? 

Hungary aims to have two new reactors enter service by 2030, more than doubling the plant’s current capacity with the 12.5-billion-euro construction. The Paks plant was built with Soviet-era technology in the 1980s during Hungary’s communist period. 

The construction of two new reactors is part of a 2014 deal struck between Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Victor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The work is carried out by Moscow’s state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom.

The details of the deal have been classified for 30 years for “national security reasons” with critics alleging this could conceal corruption.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What are the chances of blackouts in Austria this winter?

Since the late 1970s, Austria has been fiercely anti-nuclear, starting with an unprecedented vote by its population that prevented the country’s only plant from providing a watt of power.

Last month, the Alpine EU member filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice over the bloc’s decision to label nuclear power as green.

In 2020, the top EU court threw out an appeal by Austria to find British government subsidies for the nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in breach of the bloc’s state aid rules.

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