France, UK to work more closely on nuclear

9th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 9, 2006 (AFP) - France and Britain announced Friday that they will work more closely in the civil nuclear field at a time when London is widely expected to restart the country's atomic energy programme.

PARIS, June 9, 2006 (AFP) - France and Britain announced Friday that they will work more closely in the civil nuclear field at a time when London is widely expected to restart the country's atomic energy programme.

"We have agreed to explore in the short term and further develop the opportunities of working together in the civil nuclear field," the two countries said in a joint statement after a summit in Paris.

"To that end we have agreed to establish a regular Franco-British Nuclear Forum, involving representatives from government, industry and technical experts."

The announcement comes weeks before the British government is expected to publish a review into the country's future energy needs to combat dwindling North Sea oil and gas reserves.

The report, ordered by prime minister Tony Blair late last year, is tipped to propose the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants, combined with renewable energy sources.

Blair signalled his stance on the matter last month when he said that nuclear energy was "back on the agenda with a vengeance", prompting immediate interest from at least one energy firm in France.

France has invested heavily in atomic energy since the 1970s, where nuclear reactors are the main source of electricity.

Britain currently has about a dozen nuclear power stations, most of them built in the 1960s and 1970s, providing about 25 percent of the country's electricity. Natural gas provides about 40 percent.

The two countries said in the statement that the new forum will provide "a vehicle to discuss Franco-British nuclear co-operation, including research, skills, decommissioning and waste management".

Greater ties will be established between the governments' foreign affairs and industry ministries to help the process, they added.

The announcement was among a wide number of agreements made in the energy sector.

Both stated their commitment to ensuring greater security of energy supply, including through diversification, both of which are likely to figure prominently at next week's European Council meeting in Brussels.

They agreed to call for "enhanced and more effective" dialogue between the European Union and major energy-producing countries, transit countries or major consumer countries, especially with Russia.

On climate change, they expressed their support for more efficient and sustainable energy systems and pledged to push for a new international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Any agreement should involve in particular emerging, fuel-hungry economies like China and India, they added.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news


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