Media reports suggest that the French government may be having second thoughts about its planned sell-off of state electricity company EDF. The move is certainly proving controversial in France, with a wave of strikes and protests led by trade unions threatening to derail the float.

The UK-based Daily Telegraph newspaper has reported that the disquiet being voiced in France over the planned reduction of the state’s share in the electricity company is likely to delay or possibly halt the sale altogether.

French prime minister Dominique de Villepin told the France-2 television channel that he had heard the message of the people. He also told channel in an interview that no final decision on the format or timing of EDF’s privatization had yet been taken.

There are two things I want to see before I can envisage this recapitalization: that public service is guaranteed across the whole country on an equal basis. Secondly, I want a commitment that EDF will make the necessary investments, Mr de Villepin is reported as saying.

Mr de Villepin has faced a testing time in recent weeks as he battles a wave of unrest in French industry. It is possible that the hesitancy to proceed with the EDF sell-off may have been influenced by the ferocity of the opposition to the government’s privatization of the Corsican ferry company SNCM. The government’s refusal to maintain a majority stake in the loss-making ferry operator prompted a mass walkout and led workers to attempt to hijack one of its boats.