France to Tax EDF Nuclear Output for Energy Shift to Renewables

Italian Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said earlier that Rome would not oppose an increase in Air France-KLM’s stake to 50 percent. “I expect that Air France will strongly reaffirm that Alitalia is a strategic asset for Air France, and therefore that there will be a strengthening of Air France’s role,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in Milan. “We ask that Air France does not consider Alitalia and (Rome airport) Fiumicino as an appendix, but a strategic asset for the development of European air transport.” Lupi is a political ally of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who opposed proposals to have Air France-KLM take control of Alitalia in 2008, and instead asked a group of Italian investors to take over the loss-making carrier. The Italian shareholders become free to sell their shares when a lock-up expires in a month’s time. Experts say Air France-KLM’s options include maintaining its stake by participating in a possible 200 million euro capital increase, raising its stake, or turning its back on its Skyteam alliance partner by refusing to take part in the capital hike. While Rome is pushing for extra investment, it could be a hard sell with the Franco-Dutch firm’s shareholders and workers, as it cuts costs and jobs in a bid to bring down its own debts. But the company is also seen as keen to protect the value of its existing investment while maintaining access to Europe’s fourth-largest travel market. POLITICALLY SENSITIVE Alitalia has cut costs aggressively in recent years, but remains severely hampered by low-cost competition in its European markets, poor demand on its domestic routes due to Italy’s debt crisis and the rise of high-speed trains, as well as a lack of capital to invest in long-haul fleets. Earlier this year, Air France-KLM provided its share of a 150 million euro shareholder loan to keep Alitalia afloat. Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac pledged in July not to put up more money without tough conditions. The decision is also politically sensitive as Air France, 19 percent owned by the French state, announced 2,800 further job cuts last week, prompting a call for strikes. Before the board talks, a union source briefed on the discussions said: “In the past few weeks, the management of Air France-KLM have been more open towards an increase in the stake rather than just taking part in a capital increase.” A banking source, however, said an increase in the stake was the least likely option. Others said the management of the Dutch side of the operation, which merged with Air France to create Air France-KLM in 2004, was particularly reluctant to back it. “It is impossible in the current context,” the source said.

All change is expensive in the short term even if its beneficial in the long term, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said today in a speech about the environment in Paris. The nuclear levy will be applied to Electricite de France SA s existing atomic reactors, he said. The carbon tax will be introduced progressively on fossil fuels in order to earn 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in 2016. President Francois Hollande , who vowed during his election campaign to reduce reliance on nuclear to half of total output by about 2025 while also keeping down consumers bills, hasnt yet said how he will reconcile those aims. The country gets about three-quarters of the power it produces from EDFs 58 nuclear reactors, more than any other nation. The energy transition will cost an estimated 20 billion euros a year, Hollande said yesterday. Our nuclear fleet will be asked to contribute, Ayrault said today at the end of a two-day conference on the environment. The tax would apply over the remaining lifetime of our reactors. Frances Green party, which had said it would withdraw support for the Socialist government over the slow pace of policy initiatives, applauded the carbon tax announcement and new incentives towards home renovations for improved energy use. Ayrault didnt give details of how much EDF, which is 84 percent owned by the government, will have to pay. The utility is compensated for the higher cost of electricity produced by wind turbines and solar panels it buys through a tax on power bills called the CSPE. Carbon Tax The planned carbon tax, to be called a climate energy contribution, will be neutral next year and generate 2.5 billion euros in 2015 and 4 billion euros in 2016, Ayrault said. It will be applied to gasoline, diesel, coal, natural gas as well as heavy and heating fuels. Fishing and transport workers will be exempt from the levy while industrial plants that qualify for carbon quotas will keep their system, according to Ayrault. The governments policy announcements appear to be pragmatic, with very ambitious targets, some would even say hard-to-reach targets, said Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, who is chief executive officer of Solvay SA (SOLB) and was speaking for the business lobby Medef.

officials recommended last month that the U.N. Security Council approve this request. The African Union and United Nations planned to send experts to the Central African Republic to assess exactly what was needed and U.N. diplomats said that on the basis of those reports the Security Council would respond with a resolution. U.N. envoy to Central African Republic, retired Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, and U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic both last month signaled to the Security Council that the AU force would not be enough to combat the crisis in the country, which borders six other states. We want to pass the message that it is imperative to strengthen the MISCA, Fabius said. France has a small force in Bangui securing the airport and its local interests. French diplomatic sources said earlier this week Paris would be ready to provide logistical support and increase its troop numbers to 700-750 men if needed. Michel Djotodia, who swept to power at the head of the rebellion, was officially sworn in as the country’s president last month but he has failed to contain waves of looting and killing by gunmen. Djotodia earlier this month sacked the head of the armed forces after days of clashes with fighters loyal to Bozize killed 100 people.

Letter: France is not a model for Quebec on minority rights

Dozens of young men rioted in a troubled district in northern France after weeks of tensions, pulling drivers from their cars and stealing the vehicles, and burning a school and a youth center. Photograph by: Georges Charrieres , AP Re: a A Quebec model for tolerance a (Opinion, Sept. 20) In response to the opinion article by Robert Leckey and Robert Wintemute, I would like to add the following reasons why France is not a model for Quebec, with respect to preserving its majority culture and protecting minority rights. French Quebecers are not native to this province but took Quebec by force from Canadaas First Nations. In turn, the British took Quebec by force and then granted independence to Canada through political negotiation. In this respect, the majority of Quebecers are immigrants, French, English and others. By contrast, the French have lived in France since recorded history and can insist that immigrants abide by their majority culture. Certainly, the QuAbAcois are one of Canadaas founding nations and a distinct society, and this is reflected in Canadian law and practice. However, Quebec is not a sovereign nation, but a province in Canada and is still bound by Canadian law and norms. France is a sovereign nation and can pursue its national policy without negotiation with other governments. Anglophones and allophones, especially in Montreal, have contributed significantly to Quebecas economic development and should have corresponding input to Quebec society. By contrast, France was primarily developed by its native people. France is not a paragon of virtue in dealing with minorities and has experienced a number of race riots.