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With France but without China: Britain’s investment in nuclear power, announced on Tuesday, aims to establish the country’s energy independence but also marks a turning point in its foreign policy.
The project was announced and re-announced for years, and the project was validated in July. In September, a few days before his departure from Downing Street, a Boris Johnson promised 10 funding. And this Tuesday, Britain and France turned a new page in the endless nuclear saga across the Channel, declaring that they would participate equally in the development of “Sizewell C”. This new plant with two EPR reactors will be installed near the village of the same name on the east coast of England. Its construction will take between nine and twelve years. The first nuclear infrastructure to be funded by the UK government for three decades, it is expected “creating 10,000 highly skilled jobs and providing reliable, low-carbon electricity to the equivalent of 6 million homes for fifty years”. London will pay 700 million pounds (810 million euros) and Paris will follow suit.
Strained Sino-British relations
To reach this deal, celebrated by investors on both sides of the Channel, it was necessary to oust a troublesome business partner: China. In fact, at the beginning of the project, the China General Nuclear group (CGN) was supposed to be a minority shareholder with a 20% stake (the remaining 80% went to the French group EDF). While Sino-British relations are strained, London chooses a clear position by imposing itself as an investor alongside Paris. In practice, the government will have to buy out CGN’s share, for an amount that they