(Press release, Brussels, 8 July 2022) The French government’s recent announcement that it plans to buy back 100% of EDF’s shares shows clearly that leaving essential public services to the free market simply does not work for the massive challenges ahead – as the Federation of European Public Service Unions (EPSU) has been warning for over twenty years.
Jan Willem Goudriaan, General Secretary, EPSU said, “EDF's re-nationalisation shows the breakdown of the market model for electricity. It cannot deliver just transition, security of supply and affordable prices. A complete review of the liberalised market is called for. It must put public service and public delivery of safe, sustainable and affordable energy at the centre; not the for-profit model that fails Europe's workers and people.”
However, the transformation remains incomplete without a profound change of EDF’s legal status. As it stands, the company will remain governed by private company law. Instead, FNME CGT is calling for the company’ legal status to be changed to a public industrial and commercial establishment under French law – called EPIC. This would allow EDF to really act in the public interest, with a clear pro-public mandate and under democratic governance.
Muriel Marcilloux, FNME-CGT and Vice-President of EPSU’s utilities committee added, “Current events show that we need an in-depth assessment of twenty years of energy liberalisation in the European Union, as well as in France. We need measures that benefit consumers and workers and not just bombastic announcements.”
French unions are also calling for reduction in VAT on energy. This is currently set at 21%, while unions are calling for a reduction to 5.5%. Without a reduction in prices, people will struggle with disconnections and energy poverty.
It is time that the EU recognises that the energy market is not fit for purpose. The energy crisis exacerbated by the Ukrainian conflict shows that public and democratic control and ownership over our energy is needed. Europeans are already suffering from skyrocketing prices – and the next winter is coming.
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