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Currently, France is one of the most important actors in world politics, it certainly can be called a “great power” of the modern world, and this assumption is based on the following principles: 1.Francea independently determines its foreign policy. Political independence is based on military strength (especially on nuclear weapons). 2. France influences on international policy-making through international organizations. 3. France is trying to play the role of ideological leader of the world (by declaring itself a “bearer” of principles of French Revolution in world politics and a defender of human rights around the world) 4. The special role of France in certain regions of the world (particularly Africa) 5. France remains the center of cultural attraction for a large part of the world community.
National policy of France in the field of nuclear energy began to form in the 70’s of last century. It was the kind of reaction to the oil crises of those years. In fact, before the French government set a goal of ensuring energy security of the country, the choice between focusing on renewable power and nuclear energy. This is explained by the fact that the State has very few mineral deposits. At the time of the French energy by 70% was dependent on imports of resources from abroad. The available replacement of coal (at present all the mines closed), natural gas and oil have clearly been inadequate. The result was a bet on nuclear power, characterized by, among other things, low environmental pollution.
The first nuclear reactor came into operation in 1973. Today, there are 58 of them, which is the second largest after the U.S. fleet in the world. All plants belong to the class of reactors operating on the basis of water under pressure. In 2003, all nuclear power was generated by 420.7 billion kilowatt hours of energy, accounting for 78% of the total national production. It is planned that the production of energy will grow and by 2020 this figure will reach 600 GWh per year, as stated in France: Energy profile.
Compared with the end of 1950, there have been significantly reduced production of coal, while it exceeded 58 million tonnes per year. In 1997, it produced only 7.3 million tons of coal. Because of high production costs and depletion in 1995, all mines in the north (in economic planning region Nord-Pas-de-Calais), have been closed and is now operated only coal deposits of Lorraine. In 1997 were imported, mostly from the U.S. and Australia, more than 15 million tons of coal. In the total energy mix, coal accounts for only 5,8%.
France has limited oil reserves. The country annually produces 3.4 million tons of oil. This is clearly insufficient to meet domestic demand for this product. Oil imports for the first time increased significantly in 1960, when prices were down and it gradually took the place of the main energy source. Due to the sharp rise in oil prices on the world market in 1973 and 1979-1980. France has been increasingly using other sources of energy, and oil imports declined. This led to the decline in oil refining industry, the company is now concentrated in the lower reaches of the Seine and around Marseilles.
At the present stage gas reserves are seriously depleted, and in 1997 the share of local resources represented only 6% of the total consumption of gas in the country, so has significantly increased its imports from North African countries, the Netherlands, Norway and Russia. The share of gas in the energy of France is 13.6%.