Hinkley Point deal "extremely important" - Minister

United Kingdom – Nuclear industry/Hinkley Point – Press briefing given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development¹

London, 29 September 2016

Q. – (on Hinkley Point and EDF’s investment in the United Kingdom)

THE MINISTER – Yes, I’m going to attend that signing ceremony: this is an extremely important investment amounting to €18 billion, €12 billion of it for EDF. It’s a project which is going to create jobs – 25,000 jobs in Britain, 4,500 jobs in France – and which doesn’t concern only EDF, incidentally: it concerns every business in the nuclear industry. And the British needed this investment, which is a French and Chinese investment. It’s an investment with the Chinese which is part of some very long-standing Franco-Chinese cooperation – more than 30 years – in the nuclear field. This partnership is continuing, and it’s expanding, particularly through this project in the UK. As you know, the British need to modernize their capacity to guarantee their energy mix, and nuclear power is an important part of their energy mix. And this investment was essential to that end, among other things to supply six million homes. So the decision taken by the British government is clear: it’s a good agreement. I know it raises some questions, particularly in France. But it’s also an opportunity for the future of a whole industry. As you know, France has had the capability to develop a nuclear industry for a very long time. It would be a mistake not to continue developing it.

And there are still other prospects for development, in Europe and the rest of the world. A lot of countries are interested in the technological capabilities we can offer, with all the essential security. And I’ll add that as regards EDF, this significant investment isn’t the only investment, because it accounts for 10% of EDF’s investments, and EDF’s main investment – and this is important for the future of that major French public company – is the Grand Carénage [life extension programme] – i.e. upgrading and consolidating the whole French nuclear fleet.

So the French government – and this is the purpose of my visit – has shouldered its responsibilities to support this investment in the UK through the Chinese partnership. And at the same time, the French government has shouldered its responsibilities to support EDF by giving it the resources for its future and its development, particularly by participating in its recapitalization. France wants to make all those commitments not only to its British and Chinese partners but also to the French people, who are very attached to EDF, and to EDF’s employees, who are attached to their company, and that’s only natural.

So this – in addition to the prospect, as I was saying, of 25,000 jobs in the UK and 4,500 jobs in France – is why I’m here. So it’s been decided, and I’m delighted that the British government, after examining the case – Mrs May had taken office, and a new prime minister with a new government had every right to examine the content of the case – but in view of everything it contains, the British government was convinced that it was a good project for the UK. It’s also a good project for France and a good project for Franco-Chinese cooperation.

Q. – Good value for money for Britain and for France?

THE MINISTER – It is a good opportunity for developing the French nuclear industry for the future. This investment is a great investment, €18 billion and €12 billion for EDF, and it is an opportunity to develop EDF, to develop the nuclear industry in Europe and in the world with a partner, the Chinese partner.

I think it was very important to be here with the British government, the Chinese government, for this very important investment for the British people, for the six million households to have energy. This nuclear project is a part of the British energy mix; it was very important for the British government to take this decision; it is a very important moment./.

¹The Minister spoke in French and English.

United Kingdom – Nuclear energy/visit to London by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development – Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesman

Paris, 29 September 2016

M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, is going to London on Thursday 29 September to celebrate the signing of the investment agreement which definitively begins the construction by EDF Energy, in partnership with the Chinese electricity corporation CGN, of two EPR reactors using Areva technology, on the site at Hinkley Point, Somerset.

On this occasion, M. Ayrault will have a meeting with Mr Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Mr Nur Bekri, Director of China’s National Energy Administration (NEA).

The Hinkley Point project will benefit both the French nuclear sector and British industry, and the partnership with China will allow us to consolidate the position of the three countries in the field of civilian nuclear energy, which plays an essential part in the fight against climate change./.

Published on 07/10/2016

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