Energy bill debate promised

3 August 2002

France France's new government will draft an energy bill that will ensure a larger role for renewables and recognises a place for nuclear energy.

Prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said the energy bill will be preceded by a broad public energy debate, but he didn't give details. In his policy speech, he said that considering "nuclear's particularities and the French people's expectations", he would ask the parliament to take up a bill on nuclear safety and transparency. He said: "Promised for too long, a nuclear sector reform bill must be passed as soon as possible." The nuclear safety and transparency bill approved by the former government, after years of internal debate, was submitted to the National Assembly last year, but never acted upon. Just before this year's elections, the previous government transferred the bill to the Senate, which wasn't involved in the elections, so that it wouldn't expire with the outgoing lower house.

The bill before the Senate does not set up an independent nuclear regulatory authority, as many in the administration and the parliament had wanted. In the absence of the new law, the previous government issued decrees reorganising the country's nuclear regulatory structure and technical support organisations in February (see story links below).

The transparency section of the bill would create a special "high authority" responsible for providing information to the public on France's nuclear operations. Citizens would be able to petition the authority for information, which operators would then have to provide. It would also give clear authority and resources to the many local information commissions that are set up as interfaces between the public and operators of major nuclear installations in France.

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