Negotiators working to assemble Belgium’s new Christian Democrat-Liberal government coalition have agreed to extend the lives of some of the country’s seven operating nuclear power reactors. Flanders premier Yves Leterme, who hopes to be the next Belgian prime minister, said that the decision was made in the light of uncertain energy supplies and uncertain prospects for pollution-free energy production. Leterme has previously said: “Security of supply must be ensured and, therefore, an extension of the life of our nuclear power plants should be envisaged.”

King Albert II asked Leterme on 16 July to form a government in an effort to end five weeks of political stalemate since national elections on 13 June that gave his party the most seats in parliament. However, efforts to forge a deal between the Christian Democratic and Liberal parties remain deadlocked over divisions between French and Flemish speaking politicians over how to share out powers between Belgium’s linguistic regions and the federal authorities. The outgoing coalition of Liberals and Socialists led by Guy Verhofstadt has continued in office while efforts to form a new government drag on.

Belgian legislation of January 2003 prohibited the building of new nuclear power plants and limited the operating lives of existing ones to 40 years. However, this can be overridden by a recommendation from the electricity and gas regulator (CREG) if Belgium’s security of supply is threatened.