A merger between state-run Gaz de France and utility Suez should be completed by the end of the year, the French Economy Minister Thierry Breton has said.
The merger cannot take place until the national gas company is privatised and there is considerable opposition to that in the French parliament, including among the ruling UMP party.
So the government said it will wait until September – after the summer recess – to try to get the necessary legislation through.
Thierry Breton believes that will give him more time to resolve outstanding concerns among deputies.
He said: “We asked if they wanted to did leave a little later for their holiday, and stay on in July to discuss this, or they wanted to return a little earlier? In the end, they preferred the second option. That suits me well, it means I can continue my efforts to explain things to them during July and August.”
Feeling is running high within the trade union movement and hundreds of workers from GDF and Electricity de France took part in protests against the privatisation in several French cities.