the government is playing its last card to save the “Hercules” plan

Is the EDF reform sinking? The project of the group’s leadership and the government, under discussion for more than eighteen months, is not officially abandoned but it is now in great difficulty, and may not see the light of day before the 2022 presidential election. to save the “Hercules” project, the government proposed, Tuesday, April 6, to the unions, to modify its contours. He hopes to reach an improbable consensus, while the political calendar is making this vast project wanted by Emmanuel Macron more and more difficult.

Originally, the “Hercules” project was a vast reorganization of EDF, designed to cope with the major financial difficulties of the energy company. The objective: to obtain from the European Commission better remuneration for French nuclear energy in exchange for a reform of the energy company – whose dominant position on the French market has been annoying for a long time in Brussels.

The group would therefore be split into several blocks: “EDF Bleu”, a 100% public entity dedicated primarily to nuclear activities; “EDF Vert”, which would bring together the sale of electricity, renewable energies and the Enedis distribution network – this second entity would be open to the private sector, for around 30% of its capital -; Finally, the project provides for the creation of a separate public entity, “EDF Azur”, which would bring together hydroelectric dams – a way of settling an old dispute between Paris and Brussels.

An always insurmountable obstacle

For months, the government has been assuring that this is not a dismantling, but a rescue, because of the economic situation of the company. “EDF is going into the wall” if the group does not change, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, keeps repeating.

The unions and the oppositions, on the left and on the right, are not convinced and are worried about the start of “Privatization” of the company and the end of a historic French group. For several months, the days of strike have been linked and remain very followed – a new mobilization must take place, Thursday, April 8.

Read also Within EDF, opposition to the “Hercules” project is taking shape

But another opposition, just as tough, prevents the government and the management of EDF from implementing “Hercules”: the executive fails to reach an agreement with the European Commission. If several points have been settled, a major obstacle still seems insurmountable. For Brussels, the production of electricity and the supply of electricity must be clearly separated, with a “Chinese wall” between the two entities. But how can this requirement be reconciled with the government’s promise not to separate EDF into several pieces?

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