The government invokes the European “geopolitical situation” to justify the acquisition of EDF by the State

The government invokes the European “geopolitical situation” to justify the acquisition of EDF by the State

The government confirms its intention to buy the remaining 15.9% of EDF shares. The authorities argue that a measure to ” independence and energy sovereignty of France “, while the opposition fears the consequences of the conditions that the European Union will impose.

By withdrawing the title from the coast through a public takeover bid (OPA), the State would therefore be “the only pilot” on board, according to the expression of Professor Jean-Michel Gauthier, interviewed by EURACTIV on this subject.

From then on, the government would no longer have its hands tied to relaunch the activities of the French flagship of nuclear energy, which is currently suffering from several ailments.

First, that of maintaining existing reactors. The so-called “Grand Carénage” program to extend the life of existing reactors is estimated at more than 50 billion euros by 2030, excluding operating costs.

New nuclear program

Then, this would make it possible to launch the program of construction of six new nuclear reactors desired by the President of the Republic by 2035, valued at more than 50 billion euros.

Ultimately, to ensure a “abundant production of carbon-free electricity”, according to the Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, guest ofEuropean 1 Tuesday morning (July 19).

In addition, the country must also do at the moment with a nuclear fleet which is idling, between scheduled maintenance, corrosion problems and the heat wave which forces the shutdown of certain reactors to avoid heating up the waterways.

On this last point, the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has just granted EDF a “temporary exemption” for four reactors, because in view of the supply situation, this has become ” essential to the security of the electrical network. she declares.

However, it is above all “the geopolitical situation [qui] impose strong decisions [recapitalisation] to ensure the independence and energy sovereignty of France“, hammers the Ministry of the Economy, from the first words of its press release.

Questioning the European electricity market

Alongside the war in Ukraine, the functioning of the European electricity market is making the situation worse, as soaring gas prices lead to soaring electricity prices. Consequently, opposition calls into question the very foundation of this European electricity market.

Some like Sébastien Jumel, Communist MP (NUPES), member of the Economic Affairs Commission in charge of studying the so-called “purchasing power” bill, even demand “an energy exception […] on electricity production to get it out of the logic of the market”.

Contacted by EURACTIV to clarify his remarks made at a press conference on Tuesday (19 July), the deputy for Seine-Maritime announced that he would set up a “inter-parliamentary and trade union group” on these issues.

For Mr. Jumel, this operation is also and above all the first step towards the dismantling of the energy company, wondering about the conditions that the European Union will impose for this recapitalization.

“The government’s market operation is a deception that secretly prepares the return of a cut of our public company”, he declares.

Same fear for Marine Le Pen. The President of the National Rally (RN) group in the National Assembly is even ready to put her ” cut off that the Hercules project will come back on the table”as she claimed on the set of BFM-TV July 10.

A 9.7 billion transaction

In addition, the MP for Pas-de-Calais denounces on Twitter the “cynicism” of a government that dare to waste 10 billion euros to facilitate the dismantling of EDF. »

“It is an extremely expensive operation which has no goal of national interest”, adds Jean-Philippe Tanguy RN deputy for the Somme, contacted by EURACTIV. This operation is mainly an announcement that made the title jump without any precaution he shouts.

EDF’s share price increased by more than 30% between the government’s announcement (July 6) and the opening of the markets on Wednesday (July 20), after the price was suspended on July 13 on request. of EDF to avoid, precisely, that he gets carried away.

According to Mr. Tanguy, the government don’t try to lower the price“. The Minister of the Economy is also proposing a buyback of shares at €12/share, slightly more than the current price. This even represents a premium of 53% compared to the share price on the eve of Elisabeth Borne’s announcement during her general policy speech (July 5).

The government plans to file the takeover bid with the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) by early September.

[Davide Basso a contribué à la rédaction de cet article.]


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