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POLITICS

France begins nationalisation of power giant

On Tuesday, France began the process of taking full control of EDF, the highly indebted power utility that is to spearhead efforts to relaunch the country's nuclear industry.

France begins nationalisation of power giant
The logo of EDF on the headquarters' building in 2019 in Paris (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

The state, which currently owns 84 percent of EDF, filed a takeover offer with the financial markets regulators, the first step in removing EDF’s shares from the market.

The French government in July signalled its intention to fully reabsorb EDF.

It hopes the move will help re-instill confidence in the company, which has a €60-billion debt, as the government wants to launch construction of six next-generation nuclear reactors.

The state is offering €12 per share, and if it takes its holding to 90 percent, it can force other shareholders to sell.

The entire operation will cost €9.7 billion.

After the 1970s energy shocks, France began a massive programme to build nuclear power plants, which eventually accounted for around three-quarters of electricity production.

But France’s oldest reactors are reaching the end of their service lives and EDF’s efforts to build a new generation of nuclear power plants has faced massive delays and cost overruns.

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POLITICS

Macron calls for stricter Twitter controls on Covid disinformation

French President Emmanuel Macron criticised Twitter's new boss Elon Musk on Thursday, saying the entrepreneur was wrong to drop the fight against Covid disinformation as he slashes back content moderation on the platform.

Macron calls for stricter Twitter controls on Covid disinformation

With his country facing a fresh surge in coronavirus infections, Macron said the subject of misleading Covid information should be addressed head on, not swept under the rug.

“I think this is a big issue,” Macron, on a state visit to the United States, told broadcaster ABC. “What I push very much, for one, is exactly the opposite: more regulation.”

He said such protections have been implemented and enforced in France and “at the European level.”

Freedom of expression remains paramount, Macron insisted, “but there is responsibilities and limits” to what can be written and disseminated.

“You cannot go into the streets and have a racist speech or anti-Semitic speech,” the French leader said. “You cannot put at risk the life of somebody else. Violence is never legitimate in democracy.”

Macron’s concept of freedom of expression within acceptable limits is far from the libertarian approach of Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist” who has sacked many of the Twitter employees tasked with content moderation.

Musk has begun to allow Twitter users banned from the platform for posting disinformation, such as former US president Donald Trump, to return.

And it emerged this week that Twitter has stopped enforcing a rule preventing users from sharing misleading information about Covid-19 and vaccine effectiveness.

The billionaire Musk has made no secret of his fierce opposition to health restrictions put in place to fight the pandemic, especially when they meant the temporary shuttering of his Tesla electric vehicle factory in California.

“To say that they can not leave their house and they will be arrested if they do… this is fascist. This is not democratic, this is not freedom,” Musk raged in April 2020 on a conference call with analysts.

On Wednesday the European Union issued a sharp warning to Musk, saying he must do “significantly” more to fight disinformation, such as reinforcement of content moderation, in order to comply with EU law.

“There is still huge work ahead” for Twitter, said Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for the internal market.

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