16 May 2012

Incoming French Government and Nuclear Power

The incoming French President François Hollande and his Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault have presented the composition of the new government. Designated Ministers include explicit opponents of nuclear power as well as outspoken proponents. Relevant positions for energy policy include the following positions (unofficial English translation):

• Jean-Marc Ayrault, Socialist Party, Prime Minister

• Nicole Bricq, Socialist Party, Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy

• Arnaud Montebourg, Socialist Party, Minister for Productive Recovery [the term “industry” has disappeared"]

• Cecile Duflot, Green Party, Minister for Territorial Equality and Housing.

Jean-Marc Ayrault, President of the Socialist Group in the National Assembly, mayor of the City of Nantes, can be expected to follow President Hollande’s position: Closing the two oldest French nuclear plants in Fessenheim; reduce the nuclear share until 2025 from 75% to 50%; engage in an energy transition favoring efficiency and renewables.

Nicole Bricq, Senator, economist, is considered rather pro-nuclear. However, while she has campaigned in favor of the victims of nuclear testing, her statements on nuclear power development are scarce. She is considered on President Hollande’s line. She will be responsible for the organization of a national energy debate before the end of the year.

Arnaud Montebourg, Member of Parliament, left wing of Socialist Party, a lawyer by training. On his website, he signs an article called “Overcoming Nuclear”. His position is that nuclear power is a “transition energy”. He stated in a video-taped interview with Le Monde that nuclear power plants should be replaced by and by with one third energy savings, one third renewables and one third by natural gas.

Cecile Duflot, National Secretary of the Green Party (Europe Ecologie—The Greens), she has strongly defended her party position in favor of a nuclear phase-out. However, she was considered a top candidate for the Minister of Ecology position. While she will have considerable oversight of policy implementation on the sub-national level and in housing, her impact on nuclear policy should be limited.