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France to fully nationalise electricity

Meanwhile, European Parliament votes to endorse gas and nuclear as energy crisis deepens

FRANCE will fully nationalise electricity giant EDF, its prime minister said today, as the European Parliament voted controversially to include natural gas and nuclear in its list of “sustainable” energy sources.

Both moves are responses to Europe’s deepening energy crisis as Russia’s war against Ukraine and retaliatory sanctions drive prices sky-high — and make the continued flow of gas uncertain.

Elisabeth Borne, who succeeded Jean Castex in France’s number two job in May, told lawmakers the crisis meant “we must have full control over our electricity production and performance. We must ensure our sovereignty in the face of the consequences of the war and the colossal challenges to come. That’s why I confirm the state’s intention to own 100 per cent of EDF’s capital.”

France already owns an 84 per cent stake in the firm, which it used to limit energy price rises for French households to 4 per cent this year compared to 54 per cent so far in Britain.

President Emmanuel Macron’s Together alliance failed to secure a parliamentary majority, and making a nationalisation popular with the left-wing New Ecological and Social People’s Union (Nupes) — a left alliance including Jean-Melenchon’s France Unbowed, the Communist Party, Socialist Party and Greens — its first signature policy could be a bid for their support. Nupes says it plans to table a vote of no confidence in the government this week.

The announcement came the same day the European Parliament voted to endorse natural gas and nuclear as green energy despite days of protests outside the assembly.

Environmentalist groups say gas — a fossil fuel — and nuclear, a renewable but one which produces toxic waste that remains radioactive for thousands of years — have no part in a climate-friendly energy mix, and the parliament’s environment and economy committees had urged MEPs to reject the European Commission’s proposals.

But they voted 328-278 against the committees’ resolution, meaning penalties for investing in polluting energy sources will not apply to gas and nuclear.

Greenpeace immediately said it would submit a formal request for internal review to the European Commission, and then take legal action at the European Court of Justice if the result isn’t conclusive.

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