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Can anyone explain to me why des was put in this sentence?

Im Zuge des von der Bundesregierung schrittweise geplanten Atomausstiegs wird nun aber auch der Meiler Winden vom Netz gehen müssen.

For me the sentence would make more sense without it.

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    Which sense would the sentence make without the "des"?
    – Arsak
    Jul 20 at 0:20
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You could shorten the sentence to

Im Zuge des Atomausstiegs ...

Then, more and more detail about the Atomausstieg is added by inserting modifiers (Attribute):

Im Zuge des geplanten Atomausstiegs ...
Im Zuge des schrittweise geplanten Atomausstiegs ...
Im Zuge des von der Bundesregierung schrittweise geplanten Atomausstiegs ...

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Here is a shorter version of this sentence, only the relevant parts are left unchanged:

Im Zuge des von der Bundesregierung schrittweise geplanten Atomausstiegs wird etwas geschehen.
Something will happen in the course of the nuclear phase-out planned step by step by the German government.

This is main clause without any add-ons:

Etwas wird geschehen.
Something will happen.

Let's attach the first add-on:

Etwas wird im Zuge des Atomausstiegs geschehen.
Something will happen in the course of the nuclear phase-out.

Here the article "des" appears. In English it becomes two words: "of the".

In German sentences the first position of a sentence is available for any part of speech (not only for the subject like in English), so we can move the new add-on to this place. But then the subject (etwas/something) must move to the position behind the verb. This maneuver is not possible in English, so the English translation will be the same:

Im Zuge des Atomausstiegs wird etwas geschehen.
Something will happen in the course of the nuclear phase-out.

Time for add-on #2:

Im Zuge des Atomausstiegs, der von der Bundesregierung geplant ist, wird etwas geschehen.
Something will happen in the course of the nuclear phase-out which is planned by the German government.

This new add-on is a relative clause describing the noun Atomausstieg (nuclear phase-out). But we can make it more elegant by turning it into a left attribute of this noun in German and a right attribute in English. The left attribute must stand immediately before the noun, i.e. between article and noun:

Im Zuge des von der Bundesregierung geplanten Atomausstiegs wird etwas geschehen.
Something will happen in the course of the nuclear phase-out planned by the German government.

The last add-on is just the cherry on the cake. It's an attribute of the praticiple geplanten (planned), and again it's a left attribute in German and a right attribute in English:

Im Zuge des von der Bundesregierung schrittweise geplanten Atomausstiegs wird etwas geschehen.
Something will happen in the course of the nuclear phase-out planned step by step by the German government.

Without the article "des" (of the), the sentence just will be wrong:

falsch: Im Zuge von der Bundesregierung schrittweise geplanten Atomausstiegs wird etwas geschehen.
wrong: Something will happen in the course nuclear phase-out planned step by step by the German government.

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