Franco-British Nuclear Forum

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The creation of the Franco-British Nuclear Forum was decided by Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Jacques Chirac at the Franco-British summit in Paris in June 2006, "in a long-term vision, determined by the objectives of security of supply, the fight against climate change and competitiveness".[1][2][3]

The Communique

The key points from the Communique on energy and climate included:

  • Energy - "Develop a European energy policy, which focuses on energy security, diversity of supply, sustainability, market competitiveness, addressing global warming and energy efficiency.
  • Climate Change - "establish a long-term international objective for the stabilisation of concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, consistent with the target of restricting an increase in global temperatures to more more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels". [1]

Nuclear Spin for Hoon

Correspondence between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Embassy in Paris, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, outlines briefing notes for Geoff Hoon, the British Minister for Europe, to take on the Forum in July 2006.

Likely questions for Hoon included: "Does this announcement pre-empt the Energy Review or CoRWM's conclusions?", to which the answer is "no";

Another question was "How will the forum operate? Who will lead it?"

The answer: "Too early to say. UK officials will be discussing all this with their French opposite numbers in due course".

Another question was that "Does this announcement indicate that French companies will be involved in any new nuclear build in the UK?

To this Hoon's reply was to be "No".[2]

The overall message was that no one was pushing the Forum. Secretly the British knew otherwise.

French Watching the UK Energy Review with "Undisguised Interest"

Internal Foreign Office communications from Paris to London from the previous month, show just how keen the French were.

"Although both sides had been pleased with the communique... both sides welcomed establishment of a Franco-British Nuclear Forum ... But Loos acknowledged that the French industry was keen to go further and was awaiting the outcome of the UK energy review with undisguised interest" [3]

First Meeting

In October 2006, the lead civil servants at the DTI, Louise Robson and Andy Layton met their French counterparts to finalise details for the first meeting of the Forum which took place in Paris, November 2006 [4]. It was co-chaired by Mr François Loos, the French Industry Minister, responsible for energy, and Lord Truscott, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy, at the British Department of Trade and Industry.

Over 100 nuclear experts attended, along with representatives from the industry including EDF and British Energy. It is intended that the forum will meet twice a year.

Loos told the forum that since “energy demand will increase by 60% by 2030. It will need thousands of billions of euros of investment…in other forms of energy besides fossil fuels. We know nuclear energy is the response to these challenges.”

Truscott stressed the issue of public opinion and told the audience that it “is clearly an important issue in the UK and it was made clear in our energy review that it is important to engage the public. Clearly there is a case which the government has to make for nuclear power. We are looking at climate change and security of energy supply. Those issues are not going to go away.”

The Forum focused on three broad areas

  • One workshop on the Political Environment, looking at the regulation of safety and security, legal framework and other issues that provide for public acceptance of nuclear
  • One workshop on skills including benchmarking existing skills and engagement with the supply chain;
  • One workshop on the Economic Environment, including the question of the comparative competitiveness of the nuclear energy and the long term costs of nuclear power. [5]

"We Need to Step Carefully .. But Forum Could Bring a Step Change"

FCO notes of the meeting, obtained under Freedom of Information, outline the key points from the first session. They also include a comment:

"A valuable event, sending a clear political signal of our determination to co-operate not only over civil nuclear energy, but also more widely, over energy policy and tackling climate change. The Forum has the potential to bring about a step change in existing collaborative efforts at a key moment for the UK nuclear energy sector. There are significant prospective mutual benefits in a range of areas from waste management and skills to new build. But clearly, we need to step carefully in this sensitive but crucial area". [6]

A follow-up seminar was held in London in the spring of 2007 [7]


Membership is made up from the nuclear industry, policy makers, regulators and scientists. The following British organisations are represented on the Forum:


  1. ^  Key Points From Communique
  2. ^  RE: Franco-British Nuclear Cooperation - Current Lines for Geoff Hoon Meeting Deadline - COP TODAY
  3. ^  Extract from an E-Gram from Paris to FCO, London Dated 12 June 2006
  4. ^  Nuclear Industry Association, Franco British Nuclear Forum, October 2, 2006
  5. ^  DTI, Franco British Nuclear Forum, Undated
  6. ^  Foratom, Franco-British Nuclear Forum Inaugurates Long Term Partnership in Nuclear Policy, December 6, 2006
  7. ^  UK/ France Nuclear Forum: Inaugural Meeting, 29 November
  8. ^  DTI, Franco British Nuclear Forum, Undated
    1. "Franco-British nuclear forum inaugurates long term partnership in nuclear policy", Foratom, January 27, 2007.
    2. "Franco British Nuclear Forum", Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, undated, accessed August 2008.
    3. Department of Trade and Industry, "Innaugural Franco-British nuclear forum to share long term energy visions", Media Release, November 29, 2006.