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More utilities to meet to the needs of the people!

20/04/20 Publications, Europe

Energy, and more specifically electricity, meets a vital need. Like water or housing, it is a basic necessity. No inhabitant of the planet should be deprived of it because of poverty. These products should be outside the law of competition and the market. This commodification of vital products has only one purpose, that of allowing multinationals to make a profit and serve the remuneration of shareholders.

As we affirm and as the reports of Public Services International or the European Federation of Public Services demonstrate, these vital products, like others such as health, education and transport, should be provided by public services to meet the general interest and not those of profit and shareholder remuneration. In fact, one of the lessons of this pandemic is that we need more public services.

For more than twenty years, the European Union and successive governments have had only one desire, that of scrapping public services and, among them, electricity, by asserting untruths such as that competition would bring down prices, that CO2 emissions from electricity production would be reduced and that privatisations would benefit users.

Despite the European Commission's blindness, market liberalisation and privatisations have not lowered prices or reduced greenhouse gas emissions. This deregulation has had the sole aim of benefiting shareholders, whose dividends already amount to more than €250 billion as a result of the many takeovers in Europe. At the same time, 75 to 125 million people in Europe are in fuel poverty, including more than 12 million people in France. These figures are constantly rising.
In the midst of the global coronavirus health crisis, our government reveres and rediscovers the benefits of public services and the dedication of its staff without whom it would not have been possible to respond to the medical emergency.

Right to energy SOS FUTUR notes the difference in concerns between a company that is still public (EDF 84% state-owned) and private companies that resell electricity.

Indeed, on 16 April last, EDF decided: to guarantee the supply of energy to all its individual customers by suspending, until 1 September 2020, any reduction or interruption in the supply of electricity and gas as well as late penalties for all its individual customers. For customers in difficult situations, EDF also undertakes to relax its payment terms and schedules".

The shutdown of the economy in Europe due to the pandemic has resulted in a fall in market prices for electricity. And pushes the private suppliers (and among them the Total group) to claim with the government the questioning of their contracts of purchases of electricity with EDF (Arenh), the same suppliers who at the end of 2019 knocked at the door of the government, for a contrary logic. The same suppliers who were knocking on the government's door at the end of 2019, for the opposite logic. There are those who serve the general interest, and those who preserve the individual remuneration of shareholders.

Without being idyllic, there still remains a certain conception of the public service of electricity at EDF created by the CNR in 1946 "the happy days" so much praised today by President Emmanuel Macron. These values must be preserved and amplified for the recognition of a true right to energy as a fundamental right. This requires the construction of a public energy service, accessible to all. Energy, and more specifically electricity, is a basic necessity and no one should be deprived of it because of poverty, whatever the time of the year. Its access meets a vital need, and its pricing cannot depend on the market or the shareholders' dividend objectives.
Liberal financial logic and the quest for short-term profit prevent the development of a genuine public energy service. The "Hercules" project to dismantle the EDF Group is part of this logic. It must be stopped!

Also, the social and ecological emergency places our country and the whole of humanity in front of immense challenges. These are breaks with yesterday's world and profound policy changes that will have to be implemented to meet the immense needs of our country, of all countries. If this crisis linked to the current health pandemic reveals a deep crisis of civilization and our vulnerability to globalized production chains, it will also reveal our vulnerability to the globalized world.

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