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EU Commission clears Belgian support scheme for nuclear power

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission on Friday cleared a Belgian support scheme to compensate the operators of three nuclear reactors for potential financial risk, saying the measure was in line with EU state aid rules.

Belgium had agreed with operators Engie and EDF that the companies would invest 1.3 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in three ageing reactors to keep them running for another 10 years, in exchange for certain guarantees.

The companies would receive compensation from Belgium if the state decided to close the reactors earlier or change the level of nuclear tax.

The Commission, which acts as the competition watchdog in the European Union, said that while the two companies were given an economic advantage Belgium was able to prove that there would be no undue distortions of the country's energy market.

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Engie will each year sell a volume equivalent to its share of the annual production at the three reactors concerned on regulated electricity markets, which the Commission said would increase competition.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek)