Utilities reform approved

The French cabinet has approved a draft bill that will allow a portion of utilities Electricité de France and Gaz de France to be sold to private investors. The state plans to retain at least 50% of the two utilities, however, meaning that any privatisation will only be partial. Even so employees of the two utilities have indicated that they are unhappy; they went on strike earlier this month to protest the move.

The bill will be debated in parliament in June. It has been introduced to change the status of the government-owned utilities, to meet the commitment to open up to 70% of the French energy market to rivals. EU countries have agreed to full competition for C&I customers by July this year, and the change in status will prepare EdF and GdF for increased competition thereafter.