EDF: “Emmanuel Macron’s public remonstrances are scandalous, I am flabbergasted by so much nerve and disloyalty”, indignant Sophie Primas

EDF: "Emmanuel Macron's public remonstrances are scandalous, I am flabbergasted by so much nerve and disloyalty", indignant Sophie Primas

There are love stories that end badly. After 8 years at the head of the historic French company, if ever there was one, we have known since July that Jean-Bernard Lévy and the State “started the succession process” of the CEO of EDF, who had been reappointed by Emmanuel Macron in 2019. Bruno Le Maire assured this Tuesday morning on BFM-TV / RMC that the name of the new boss of the energy company would be known “in the coming days”, while in the midst of the energy crisis, the final arbitration will be made at the Elysée. “We need someone with both an industrial culture and a culture of public service”, hopes Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, senator of the Left Republican and Socialist (GRS) party. “We’re going to need someone solid enough”, analyzes the Communist senator Fabien Gay, who does not want to dwell too much on personal problems: “The question is what mandate we are going to give to this person, what whether. “Similarly, for Senator LR Gérard Longuet, who only wishes that the State “take a good one”, while according to him, Jean-Bernard Lévy “starts from himself because he has the feeling that the shareholder does not know what he wants. »

“When we say that in the long term it will be necessary to close power plants, the company is no longer recruiting, it’s real”

It is difficult to know exactly what happened between the State and the current management of EDF, but what is certain is that in response to Jean-Bernard Lévy’s criticisms expressed last week at the Meetings of French entrepreneurs organized by the Medef, Emmanuel Macron did not hesitate to tackle the CEO. This one had questioned the course given by the State in the last decade, then shareholder at 84% of the company since in the process of nationalization “Why don’t we have enough trained teams? Because we have been told that the nuclear fleet will decline, ‘prepare to close plants’. We have already closed the first two. These are, moreover, the texts in force at the time of speaking. We were told: ‘Prepare to close the next twelve’. We, with the sector, we did not hire people to build twelve power plants, we hired to close twelve, “said Jean-Bernard Lévy at the time. Response from Emmanuel Macron: “What I have heard in the public debate in recent weeks is unacceptable because it is false and irresponsible. It is absolutely unacceptable that the people who were responsible for maintenance work on the installed base can explain today that we have not taken our responsibilities. Major refit work has been decided and training investments have been made. »

“What I heard in the public debate is unacceptable because it is false and irresponsible”

Clearly, in the midst of an energy crisis and with 32 nuclear reactors shut down, planned or not, EDF and the State pass the buck of responsibility for the current state of the fleet to each other. “I’m not going to take sides, and the state of their relations does not interest me,” tempers Fabien Gay, one of the parliamentarians who follows the news of the French energy company more closely. “A company needs stability and a long-term vision. What is real is that there was a choice made by François Hollande and confirmed by Macron’s first five-year term to close a certain number of reactors, before a reversal. And when we say that in the long term it will be less nuclear and that it will be necessary to close power plants, the company is no longer recruiting, it’s real. “The LR president of the Senate’s Economic Affairs Committee, Sophie Primas, is less diplomatic: “Emmanuel Macron’s public remonstrances are scandalous. If Mr. Lévy has responsibilities that I don’t know about, the President could replace him without humiliating him in this way. This attitude is irresponsible, who is going to take the risk of running this company? I am flabbergasted by such nerve and disloyalty. »

“It was the state that dithered and ignored financial needs, then found a scapegoat”

The communist senator Fabien Gay recalls all the same that Jean-Bernard Lévy was, according to him, the executor of an unsuccessful strategy set by the State, and not a simple victim: “Faults in maintenance are not not just the covid crisis. We broke trades inside EDF, for staff reductions and to break the statutes of the IEG [la branche professionnelle des industries électriques et gazières en France, ndlr]. EDF is an 84% state-owned company, if Emmanuel Macron did not agree with EDF’s policy, he should have given other political perspectives. The State also accompanied this breakage of trades, Jean-Bernard Lévy executed. On the merits, the defense of Emmanuel Macron thus has difficulty in convincing. “Mr. Lévy has constantly warned of the difficulties generated by the energy policy decided by Mrs. Royal when Emmanuel Macron was economic adviser to François Hollande, then minister, then President: on the mechanism of the Arenh [dispositif obligeant EDF à vendre une partie de sa production nucléaire à un tarif régulé à ses concurrents, ndlr], on the closure of power plants, the anti-nuclear discourse and its consequences on the loss of skills. All of this fueled the reports we made on the sector and the blackout risk. Similarly, when Emmanuel Macron explains that the maintenance of power plants is decorrelated from the revival of new nuclear power, Gérard Longuet (LR) does not buy the justification of the President of the Republic: “The nuclear industry is the same: the experiments in terms of welding, metallurgy, pipes, valves, all this immediately reflects on maintenance and the know-how of the builders. A sector of activity whose death is announced is struggling to move forward, even if it was less marked for the presidency of Emmanuel Macron. »

Especially since, according to him, the defense of the President of the Republic consisting in recalling that he has postponed the objective of 50% nuclear in the electricity mix from 2025 to 2035 to “give visibility to the sector is quite light: “To please Nicolas Hulot, he never announced very clearly the number of power plants he wanted to have built to renew the existing power plants. And even if we postpone the deadline for 50% nuclear power, you cannot electrify uses and hydrogen without increasing the production of carbon-free electricity. However, President Macron did not take this into account, and did not question the law on energy transition and green growth, which was counting on stagnating electricity consumption. ” Once is not custom Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, senator attached to the communist group, abounds: ” The first responsibility is that of the State, which is clearly in a headlong rush. We can’t say that EDF hadn’t worked on the financial necessities of the large fairing, it was the State that dithered and ostracized on the financial needs, then found a scapegoat who is the CEO of EDF. We never wanted to have an objective confrontation with environmentalists on this [pendant le quinquennat de François Hollande, ndlr]. Everyone acting as if by reducing nuclear power, we were going to make more renewable energies. »

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