February 26. 2024. 5:41

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French prime minister to defend country’s energy position


French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday to defend and voice support for the French position on energy.

This is the first bilateral meeting between von der Leyen and Borne since she was appointed as French Prime Minister in May 2022. The French prime minister will also meet with two Vice-Presidents of the Commission, Valdis Dombrowskis and Frans Timmermans.

In addition to questions relating to simplifying access to state aid and financing by European funds, the two heads of the French and EU executive will address energy issues. The objective would be to support the French position, expressed in the European bodies by Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher and President Emmanuel Macron.

In particular, the French prime minister will reaffirm “the need to reform the market” for energy, which must “fully promote the decarbonised energy system at the lowest possible price”, Borne’s office said. France has no intention of calling this market into question, they stress, whereas some member states seem to fear this.

Thus, if states have an “agreement on the objective” of keeping prices low and non-volatile, “discussions on the modalities” of achieving this exist. Along with other countries, France is, therefore, more in favour of state intervention, through public support, state aid and the maintenance of taxation on inframarginal rent in the event of a sharp rise. Other countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, tend to opt for regulation.

Concerning hydrogen, Borne is pleased with the “European will to promote hydrogen”, which she will support.

However, where the points of view may differ is in the way of pushing for this “low-carbon hydrogen”: in addition to the production of hydrogen by renewable energies, France is asking that the EU be able to promote hydrogen that is also “produced from nuclear energy”. France is supporting this ambition with nine other European countries, having written a letter to the Commission to this effect.

“The Prime Minister will remind the highest level of how essential this issue is,” her services insisted to journalists.

[Paul Messad contributed to reporting]

(Davide Basso | EURACTIV.fr)