Editorial. Restate EDF: towards hidden dismantling?
By Fabien Gay
At the beginning of the month, the government, which already owns 84% of EDF’s shares, initiated the process of re-statising the company. This involves compensating the 16% minority shareholders for a total amount of more than 8 billion euros. Why such a choice ? In a context of energy and potentially supply crisis, while bills are exploding and plunging many families into fuel poverty, the future of the favorite company of the French is cause for concern.
If there are economic aspects in this crisis, including the war in Ukraine, it is above all the liberalization of the energy sector and the Arenh, a Franco-French system requiring EDF to sell part of of its nuclear energy to its competitors, which have considerably weakened the incumbent public company. While its investment capacities have been diminished by the State over the years, while trades and know-how have been amputated, while half of the nuclear power plants have been shut down due to procrastination by a without a vision for the future, what will be the mandate entrusted to the future CEO of EDF, Luc Rémont, if the two Economic Affairs Committees of Parliament validate this appointment? The creation of a large public energy service or the return of the Hercule project with the privatization of part of the activities?
To better understand this project to dismantle EDF, we must go back a few years. In 2019, we learned that an EDF plan to cut sales was being negotiated discreetly with the European Commission. Her name ? Hercules – heroism, the success of the most impossible tasks… an idea of a technocrat in full hubris. The goal ? Cut EDF, keep nuclear power in the bosom of the State, and privatize, in part, we were told, renewable energies and a few other profitable activities, including Enedis. The following ? Mobilization of employees and withdrawal of the government… for a return to the charge in 2021 with a new project, the « Grand EDF », which Jean-Bernard Lévy will not have time to carry out, very fortunately, dropped by the president of the Republic.
Is this restateization then nothing more than a hidden return to this project of dismantling the electrician and disengaging the State? Recovering 100% of its shares would allow it to have a free hand to decide on its own, without the potential nuisance power of minority shareholders. For the moment, nothing filters, except the quasi-regulation to « save » hydroelectric dams from privatization. But what future for the nuclear industry? Who from the private sector or from EDF will develop the renewable energies of tomorrow by responding to a question of regional planning? Will EDF be split into subsidiaries, some of which will be open to private capital?
There is a real democratic issue here; such a project cannot be inserted by way of amendment, without a general debate in Parliament. This debate must take place through a full bill, but also with employees and user associations, in complete transparency. Contrary to dismantling, our country and its users need a real public energy service which would encompass all sources of energy, from production to distribution, and would make it possible to secure access to energy and to finally recognize it for what it is: a common good essential to everyone’s life, straight from the clutches of the market!
What future for the nuclear industry? Who from the private sector or from EDF will develop renewable energies? Will EDF be split into subsidiaries?