New French body to co-ordinate nuclear strategy

5 April 2016

Electricite de France (EDF), Areva, and France's Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (atomic and alternative energy commission - CEA) have agreed to form a tripartite consultative body - the French Nuclear Platform (Plateforme France Nucléaire (PFN) - to discuss major issues affecting the French nuclear sector at home and abroad. PFN will aim to boost the joint effectiveness of the three constituent entities as well as define a "shared vision" of the goals for the nuclear sector, according to statements by Areva and CEA. It will bring together six top managers from the three parties to quarterly meetings, including the chairmen of Areva, EDF and the CEA. Each of the three organisations will take turns to chair the PFN for one year at a time on a rotating basis, starting with Areva.

A working agenda will be drafted in 2016 to establish PFN's priority topics, including the prospects for the French nuclear sector, its international strategy and technological options for the EPR design and the "coordination of positions on regulatory changes, notably regarding safety requirements and objectives". The PFN "will also work together on the future of the closed fuel cycle in France and abroad". Areva, EDF and CEA said the new body was needed in France to "best confront" the new challenges in the highly competitive nuclear sector. PFN will focus on the "the medium- and long-term goals for the sector, which will contribute to the preparation and implementation of decisions taken by France's high-level nuclear policy council (Conseil de Politique Nucléaire - CPN).

Areva has been facing financial difficulties and in February CEO Philippe Knoche reported a €2bn ($2.2bn) full-year net loss for 2015 for the group - half of which was attributed to additional provisions for the EPR reactor under construction at unit 3 of the Olkiluoto NPP in Finland. However, Knoche said the group was funded for 2016 and a €5bn share issue will be launched in the first quarter of 2017, supported by the French state, which holds 87% of Areva stock. He said Areva was heading towards "a new phase" in 2016, "in particular" due to the planned sale of a majority interest in the group's Areva NP reactor business to state-owned EDF.

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