Reuters International

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German cabinet plans to approve a draft law on August 3 that will require its utilities to pay billions of euros into a state fund to help cover the cost of nuclear storage, according to an Economy Ministry timetable seen by Reuters on Monday.

A commission recommended in April that Germany's "big four" power firms - E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall - pay a total 23.3 billion euros ($26 billion) to remove unwanted long-term liability for the storage of nuclear waste.

The commission asked utilities to transfer provisions set aside for storage sooner than expected, starting with a first instalment totalling 17.2 billion euros no later than early 2017. The government is widely expected to adopt the commission's proposals.

The legacy costs stem from Germany's decision to end nuclear power by 2022 following Japan's Fukushima disaster five years ago.

The Bundestag lower house of parliament is due to vote on the law in early November and to be debated in the upper house at the end of November, the timetable showed.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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