French utilities take the first step on the road to reform

State-owned utilities Electricité de France and Gaz de France are taking the first step towards privatisation, now that the government’s bill to reform them has been passed by the French senate. In terms of this bill, the two utilities will be transformed into corporations, with the state maintaining control of 70% of both organisations.

The bill provides for employees to retain their current job status and retirement benefits, and the government has agreed that prices of both electricity and gas will remain stable. These concessions were granted after mass protests against the privatisation of the two utilities. However, the power sector in France has come under increasing pressure from the European Union to open its markets to competition, and other EU countries have welcomed the move. /