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Rafael Fernandes Viana


Europe can not make its own geopolitical decisions while it is dependent on third parties for energy and it is not considered stable when a sudden disturbance in the energy supply can leave it in an energy crisis Furthermore, it relies on expensive and pollutant means of energy production when there is a much cheaper and more eco-friendly alternative. 

The process of European integration that started after World War II resulted from the understanding that European countries could achieve better performances and living standards if they adopted multilateral relations with each other. Adopting an isolationist approach results in conflicts and rivalries within the continent, weakening its efficiency and geopolitical power on the international outlook and, as a result, each state's performance and living standards.

Along these lines, energy security is paramount for any geopolitical unit to remain sovereign and stable despite external supply disturbances. These may arise due to a plethora of factors such as “war or political tension, extreme weather conditions, accidents, sabotage, technical faults, or financial crises” (Gökgöz 2018, 1). In regards to Europe, one should acknowledge that it is a vulnerable geopolitical unit when it comes to energy security as a result of high energy imports and scarcity of energy reserves (Gökgöz 2018, 1). This vulnerability has resulted in concerns about the EU being subject to Moscow’s “energy weapon,"  since approximately half of its energy imports come from Russia in the form of oil and natural gas, which allows Europe’s eastern neighbor to influence its foreign and economic policies (Petrescu 2016, page 76).

Moreover, the reliance on foreign oil and gas is also undesirable on economic and environmental grounds. Not only is it expensive to buy these forms of energy, but they are also associated with CO2 (as well as other toxic substances) emissions, which are undesirable for the protection of the environment and public health. It is necessary to compare the different options for energy supply and opt for the most environmentally friendly and economically favourable one. While there is no perfect one, it is possible to achieve the most financially and environmentally desirable outcome by wisely combining different options. 

As a result, this essay promotes the implementation of a European policy on energy security that uses nuclear energy as its fundamental and primary source of energy production and green energies to supplement it. The unreliability of green energies makes them unsuitable to be the base of the energy supply, and that is why nuclear energy, a reliable and still environmentally friendly option should have that role. The existing knowledge gap about nuclear energy’s safety and environmental impact, which is the primary source of skepticism and negative views about it, will additionally be addressed. 

This paper shall be organised into five sections: the first one reviewing previous literature, one on the analysis, which shall be further broken down into two subsections: one on the negative consequences of European energy dependence and another on nuclear energy being the answer to the European energy security issue. Finally, there will be a concluding section that reiterates this paper’s central argument.

Literature Review and Theory

This paper seeks to advocate for a common European policy on the use of nuclear energy as the base of energy security while advocating for green energies as a complement to nuclear energy. Given the importance of energy security and the various approaches available, this paper will support nuclear energy for its reliability and positive impact on the environment and the economy.

Nuclear energy is environmentally friendly and offers even higher performance than coal and gas (Petrescu 2016, 1). Fossil fuels have a detrimental environmental impact, and so-called green energies are unreliable means of energy production. If a means of energy production is both environmentally good and reliable, as is the case for nuclear energy, then it should be adopted. However, the skepticism behind nuclear energy’s safety and environmental impact has led some nations to adopt anti-nuclear policies, which, up to the present day, have made it impossible to achieve a common European policy on energy production (Belkin 2008, 96). The topic of nuclear energy is controversial since this form of energy production is often associated with danger and harm to the environment (Bohdanowicz 2023, 4). Consequently, some European countries have adopted anti-nuclear policies, resulting in the impossibility of adopting a common European policy on energy security (Belkin 2008, 96). Germany invested in pipelines connecting Europe to Russia to import natural gas, and such infrastructure had the aim of ensuring energy for both Germany and the European Union (Belkin 2008, 80). This policy has been protested since the beginning by many EU countries, due to geopolitical concerns related to Russian geopolitical power over Europe (Belkin2008, 96). Paul Belkin also contends that there needs to be a collective European energy strategy to address reliance on Russian energy  (Belkin 2008, 1). This is why the Finnish case study is fundamental; once it constitutes an instance of how nuclear energy can be both safe and environmentally friendly (IEA 2023, 1).

In order to support the previous argument, a nuanced analysis of the different means of energy production will be carried out, stating the advantages and disadvantages of each. An analysis will also be done on the history and policies of nuclear energy use in Germany and Finland, as well as how people in different European countries feel about it. This will help figure out whether starting to use nuclear energy was better (in Finland) than stopping to do so (in Germany) and whether people's worries about it are reasonable.  


As previously mentioned, this paper aims to analyze the different ways of achieving energy security in the EU and determine to what extent nuclear energy is the answer. To carry out this scrutiny, the theoretical framework, as well as the Finnish and German policies on nuclear energy and their respective outcomes, will be explored. This paper will provide insights about potential energy policies based on the findings.

While diversifying the countries from which the EU imports its energy would undoubtedly mitigate the specific issue of Russian dependence, it would not alter the fact that Europe would still be dependent on third parties for energy. Therefore, it does not provide it with energy security and economically favors other countries and geopolitical units while forcing Europe to spend large amounts of money.  As a result, it follows that Europe should be able to produce its own energy, which, as a geopolitical unit, is only possible if all the member states are able to reach this goal. While there is still an EU country that is not able to produce its own energy, the energy security of the geopolitical unit, and, therefore, its economic, environmental, and geopolitical strength are undermined. Even though a collective effort to achieve energy security in the EU could be achieved by adopting a common policy on green energies, fostering the intra-European trade of clean energy, and prohibiting the member states from importing foreign and/or not clean energy, the inherent unreliability of green energies would undermine the EU’s stability (Sinn 2022, 2). In the event of a supply disturbance due to meteorological reasons, Europe would have to import energy from third parties. Unless Europe is entirely energetically self-sufficient and able to count on “adjustable energy sources” whose supply is independent of external factors (Sinn 2022, 2), it can not achieve energetic security. 

The reason why nuclear energy should be chosen as the basis for reaching energy independence lies in its reliability, efficiency, and environmental impact. In fact, nuclear energy is carbon-free and more reliable than the so-called green energies. This is the reason why green energies are incapable of being the basis of energy production, especially wind and photovoltaic electric power plants (Petrescu 2016, 1). The subsequent analysis of the German case is a very good instance of the limitations of green energies.

Policy evaluation in Finland and Germany

The Finnish case will be used to illustrate the good outcomes that stemmed from the country’s investment in nuclear energy. Finally, a study conducted in Germany and Poland about public opinion on nuclear energy shows the extent to which the populations of these countries (and probably of the other European countries as well) are uneducated about nuclear energy, leading them to be averse to it. In both countries, support for nuclear energy was positively correlated with the degree of knowledge about both nuclear energy and the causes of climate change. Furthermore, the German population was, on average, more averse to the use of nuclear energy than the Polish one. When it comes to safety concerns, in fact, since nuclear energy has been around, there have only been two major nuclear reactor accidents in History, the Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi ones (World Nuclear Association 2022, 1). Furthermore, the risk of future accidents will only become lower as a result of the ongoing technological and scientific knowledge (World Nuclear Association 2022, 16).

Finland only got its first nuclear power plant commissioned in 1979, unlike countries like France which have been using nuclear energy for a long time (Greentech 2024, 1). This is relevant because Finland, unlike France, did not have any initial interest in lobbying for nuclear energy. The Nordic country opted to invest in it simply as a result of measuring its pros and cons and realizing it was a good route to take. Finland currently has the second-largest nuclear power reactor in operation worldwide and the largest one in Europe (Statista 2023). The Olkiluoto 3 reactor, which has a 1,600-megawatt capacity, was built to help the country achieve its emissions targets and increase energy security in a period in which imports from Russia have been cut or significantly curtailed (Tanner 2023, 1). Even though the construction of the nuclear reactor had a high cost of 11 billion euros, the cost of producing energy and operating the facilities is lower in comparison to the ones related to coal and gas power plants. This will make this investment financially worth it over time.  The five Finnish nuclear reactors cover more than 40% of the nation’s electricity demand (Tanner 2023, 2). Furthermore, Finland is pioneering a groundbreaking approach to disposing of spent nuclear fuel (Vehemas et al 2023, 5). The project, known as Onkalo, consists of a facility designed to safely store the high-level nuclear waste that remains radioactive for very long periods, up to 1000,000 years (Vehemas et al 2023, 17-18). This advance increases, even more, the already high level of safety of nuclear energy (Vehemas et al 2023, 14).

Germany was the European country that advocated for the import of Russian gas as a way of ensuring energy security, and its policies on energy led to the construction of the Russo-German pipeline. It was deemed a danger by several countries since the beginning, and it is not currently fully operating because of an unknown attack with likely geopolitical motivations (Belkin 2008, 96). Furthermore, Germany decided to shut down its nuclear power plants after the Fukushima incident in Japan in 2011 (Oroschakoff 2020, 1). As an alternative, the reliance on natural gas and green energies increased, increasing pollution emission levels and mortality in the country (Oroschakoff 2020, 1) Coal is utilized whenever green energies fail to produce energy due to the absence of the necessary conditions (Oroschakoff 2018, 5-6). German reliance on natural gas started to be especially problematic after the Russo-Ukranian conflict broke out, which resulted in the deterioration of the geopolitical relations between the EU and Russia, leading to an energy crisis on the European continent that affected especially the most dependent countries like Germany (Sinn 2022, 2). After Russia broke the contract by halting the gas supply to Germany from the Nordstream 1 pipeline, the energy prices in Germany skyrocketed (Rankin and Jones 2022, 2). In fact, the foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock recognized that the country failed to listen to the warnings from countries with a Russian occupation background such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia (Wintour 2022, 2). This event forced Germany to diversify its gas suppliers and reactivate coal and oil-fired power plants, a necessary but expensive and environmentally undesirable process (Connolly 2022, 1). 


This paper aimed to alert readers to the importance of achieving energy security in the EU and indicating a common policy on nuclear energy as the way of achieving it. In fact, for the EU to be energetically safe, all its member states need to be energetically safe. Hence, there is a need to adopt a common policy and ensure the whole unit is solid and cohesive. Moreover, the simple diversification of the countries from which we buy our fuels might solve the particular issue of Russian dependence, but not the problem of energy security nor the issue of high imports from third parties, which is economically undesirable. The use of nuclear energy was defended based on theoretical and scientific knowledge and the evaluation of pro and anti-nuclear policies in two EU countries- Finland and Germany. The argumentation was based on the fact that nuclear energy is more efficient, hence cheaper to produce, offsetting the higher capital costs of nuclear power plants, and environmentally friendly than fossil fuels like gas and coal and is just as reliable as them, as opposed to green energies, which in Germany proved to be incapable of, alone, ensuring a stable supply of energy to the country. Furthermore, the biggest objection to nuclear energy, related to its potential danger, was refuted based on historical and technical evidence. As a result, this paper promotes the adoption of a standard European policy on energy security that uses nuclear energy as the basis and reliable framework of energy production, with green energies as a complement. This way, Europe will become energetically independent, hence gaining sovereignty, being environmentally cleaner, and economically more robust. Together, we can make the EU a better global superpower and a place where the current and future generations will strive.


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Long Paper 4: Welcome
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