EDF’s reform project will not come to fruition before the end of the five-year term next year. A report put on the account of disagreements with the European Commission in this file which aroused strong political and trade union opposition in France.
The reorganization of EDF was postponed due to disagreements with the European Commission. “At this stage, the discussions have not succeeded [avec Bruxelles et] it is not possible to have a bill in Parliament immediately, ”a government source told AFP on July 28. According to the latter, the project will therefore not be able to be completed in time, before the start of the next campaign for the election in April 2022.
On the Brussels side, the story is noticeably different. According to a source close to the matter in Brussels, it was Paris which decided to take the break. “It is a political choice of France to pass the reform after the presidential election,” said this source to AFP.
The complex reorganization project, baptized “Hercules” then “Grand EDF”, which is fought by the unions of the electrician and a broad spectrum of the opposition (rebellious France, Communist Party, Socialist Party or The Republicans), could thus wait until a possible second term of Emmanuel Macron.
The Force Ouvrière union welcomed the fact that the project “is at the very least postponed”, subject to confirmation, according to a tweet from its general secretary Yves Veyrier. “Our CEO has every intention of doing something,” Maud Mathieu, central CGT union delegate from EDF, told AFP.
Asked by AFP, the European Commission said it was an “ongoing discussion” with the French authorities, and declined to comment. At the beginning of July, united unions and parliamentarians reiterated their opposition to the “disintegration” of EDF. In the eyes of the executive, the idea was to allow EDF, heavily in debt, to be able to invest in renewables.
The government believes that reform is still necessary
An agreement with Brussels, guardian of competition in Europe, was however necessary. A comprehensive agreement with the Commission would also have enabled an old dispute over hydroelectric dams to be settled. But Paris and Brussels were opposed in particular on the degree of separation between the three different entities of EDF which would have been created with the reform. France wanted its champion to remain “integrated” while the competition services at the Commission wanted a more watertight separation. The Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire described the EDF unit as “the absolute red line of the French government”.
EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy recently spoke of “difficult” discussions between Paris and Brussels. “There has been progress but there is no global agreement”, estimates one within the government, which did not want a “truncated” or “hasty” reform.
“We are still convinced of the need to make this reform”, adds one on the side of the executive. EDF, contacted by AFP, declined to comment immediately. The group, majority owned by the French state, is due to publish its financial results on July 29.