LONDON – The UK and France have signed a landmark deal to strengthen cooperation in the development of civil nuclear energy, paving the way for a new generation of power stations to be constructed in Britain.
The accord was signed in Paris on Friday at a summit between British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The UK government says the agreement will create several commercial deals worth more than $790 million in the nuclear energy field, as well as 1,500 UK jobs, the BBC reported.
A statement from Downing Street said: “This joint declaration will signal our shared commitment to the future of civil nuclear power, setting out a shared long term vision of safe, secure, sustainable and affordable energy, that supports growth and helps to deliver our emission reductions targets.”
The UK and French government are to cooperate with each other and with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “to strengthen international capability to react to nuclear emergencies and establish a joint framework for cooperation and exchanging good practice on civil nuclear security.”
After their initial meeting today, Cameron and Sarkozy said they had focused on a number of specific areas of cooperation, including nuclear deals between Rolls-Royce and Areva SA, as well as between EDF SA and a joint venture of Kier Group and BAM Nuttall.
Both deals relate to the construction of a new reactor at Hinkley Point in western England, according to Bloomberg. Public and private sector bodies in both countries’ civil nuclear energy industries are to cooperate more closely in areas like research and development, education and training, and security.
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Today’s summit, which also focused on defence cooperation and the crisis in Syria, was a far cry from the leaders’ recent encounters at bitter European meetings in Brussels, where their sometimes shaky political alliance has been tested and undermined by clashes.
Sarkozy, who is running for re-election in April, recently expressed frustration with Cameron for getting in the way of Europe’s attempts to save the euro, calling the UK prime minister an “obstinate kid,” according to The Daily Telegraph.
Cameron recently attacked “crazy” French plans for a financial transaction tax, while India’s decision last month to sign a $12 billion deal with French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale fighter jets also stoked tensions.
Today, however, both leaders were keen to play up areas of mutual cooperation and interest:
“When you look across the foreign policy and defence policy issues we have discussed today, I don’t think that there has been closer French-British cooperation than at any time since the Second World War,” Cameron told reporters at joint press conference, according to the Agence France Presse.
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