Yannick Jadot, presidential candidate for the French Green Party, is proposing to re-nationalize ‘Electricite de France’ (EDF), the company responsible for providing energy to more than 80 percent of France. Jadot wants EDF to become an “établissement public à caractère industriel et commercial” (EPIC), a particular designation of public company in France. Currently, the French state owns more than 80 percent of the shares of EDF, but the costs of purchasing the remaining shares will cost upwards of five billion euros, according to Jadot.
EDF was created as an EPIC in 1946, when nearly 1,700 energy companies were nationalized by the provisional government following the second world war. In 1999, the European Union mandated that EDF end its monopoly over the French energy sector. In 2004, the state sold some of its shares in the company.
For Jadot, a nationalized EDF would be a “powerful strategic tool in the energy transition.” He believes that the cost of nationalizing the company would be less than the indemnities handed out to shareholders when a power plant is closed down. Jadot’s platform includes a plan to “move on from nuclear energy and invest in renewable energy,” which would entail the closing of many nuclear plants.
The debate over the role of nuclear energy in France has reignited following the announcement of more delays in the construction of a nuclear reactor in the town of Flamanville. The reactor has been under construction since 2007, and was initially planned to be operational as of 2012. Construction costs have surpassed 20 billion euros, much higher than the 3.3 billion proposed. Jadot holds this up as an example of a “fiasco” in France’s energy sector.
In the second round of the Green presidential primaries, Jadot was considered the more moderate candidate (compared to self-described “ecofeminist” Sandrine Rousseau). Still, this proposition is “explosive” to some. Jadot has spent the past few days enumerating his policy proposals on Twitter, including his proposal to nationalize EDF. His platform includes the nationalization of highways, and keeping universities free (which he believes is threatened by Emmanuel Macron).
This platform has some similarities with that of left-wing presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who also wants to nationalize France’s transportation networks, and shift France’s energy profile away from reliance on nuclear energy. In polls, Jadot still trails Melenchon, at around six percent of first round voting intention. The French presidential election will be held in April 2022.