April 17, 2016 / 8:12 AM / a year ago

France committed to UK nuclear project: BBC cites Macron

File picture shows French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron as he attends the 4th conference on employment and social issues at the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) in Paris, France, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File

LONDON (Reuters) - France will go ahead with construction of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in Britain, the French economy minister was quoted as saying by the BBC.

Emmanuel Macron was quoted by the BBC as saying the 18-billion-pound ($25.57 billion) project was “very important” for France and state-owned utility company EDF.

“We back Hinkley Point project, it’s very important for France, it’s very important for the nuclear sector and EDF,” Macron told the BBC.

“Now we have to finalize the work, and especially the technical and industrial work, very closely with EDF, with the British government, to be in a situation to sign in the coming week or more.”

Asked whether he thought the deal would go ahead, Macron said: “That’s my view, and that’s our perspective, because I think it’s very important for our commitment to nuclear energy.”

Last week, Macron told unions at EDF that he had not yet decided whether to go ahead with the nuclear plant and has said a final investment decision will be taken by early May.

The project was announced in October 2013 but a final investment decision has been delayed as EDF has struggled to find partners and financing.

Chinese utility CGN signed up for a one-third stake last October, leaving EDF to fund the rest.

($1 = 0.7040 pounds)

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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