Sweden's incoming coalition to set up energy commission

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 01, 2014 8:55 AM

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's Social Democrats said Wednesday they had agreed with junior coalition partner the Green Party to set up an energy commission, offering hope of reconciling their opposing views on nuclear policy.

"We have an energy agreement," Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven told Swedish radio. "We want to have a broad discussion, undertake an analysis and reach a long-term agreement because that is necessary for the country."

"To have a long-term discussion that is going to lead somewhere, you shouldn't start by saying we should go this way or that way. Instead, you should keep the situation as it is now," he said.

Lofven has previously said nuclear power would be needed for "the foreseeable future" while the Greens want to see more of Sweden's reactors closed in the next four years.

On Wednesday, the Green Party said in a press release it had agreed with the Social Democrats on tougher safety rules for nuclear plants and said companies should pay more for nuclear waste treatment.

"Our strategy has been that the oldest reactors would be phased out by default if we raise the safety demands on them," said Adam Bergsveen, the party's political secretary.

Sweden's outgoing center-right governing coalition of four parties agreed in 2009 that new reactors could be built to replace aging ones.

Sweden's reactors are operated by state utility Vattenfall [VATN.UL], Fortum and E.ON.

In a 1980 referendum, Sweden voted in favor of phasing out nuclear power, which provides about 40 percent of the country's electricity. Two of Sweden's 12 reactors have already been shut down.

The Social Democrats and Greens are working to form a minority government and will need support from other parties to push through policy. Lofven has said he expects to present a new government on Oct. 3.

(Reporting by Johan Sennero; Editing by Simon Johnson and Jason Neely)