A surprising announcement was made over the weekend by János Lázár, Minister of Construction and Transport, that the Hungarian government will “end the friendship,” as he put it, with Siemens, one of Germany’s largest companies. The background to the row is that at the Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary, the control system is being supplied by a German-French consortium, but as this is now a dual-use technology from a legal point of view, the current European regulatory environment requires the relevant national export authority to authorize its civilian use. This has already been done in the case of France, but not yet with Germany, where Siemens is the commissioned company.
The government is no longer counting on Siemens’ involvement in the renewal of the railway vehicle fleet, Atv.hu quoted the minister as saying. According to the report, János Lázár said, “we are no longer friends with them,” adding that there are no plans in the future to buy Siemens vehicles.
The announcement is significant for several reasons. Firstly, former Innovation and Technology Minister László Palkovics reported last spring that a public procurement procedure for 115 new electric locomotives had been closed, with Siemens Mobility Kft. and Siemens Mobility Austria GmbH winning the tender.
Photo: Facebook/Siemens Mobility
The plan was to use the Siemens Vectron locomotives to renew and expand the InterCity service in Hungary, with a framework agreement signed in April 2022, and delivery contracts expected to be signed by the end of 2022. If the schedule had been kept, the first locomotives from the procurement would be in service in 2024, but now it seems that nothing will come of this project, Világgazdaság points out.
Moreover, the minister has indicated that they will review their cooperation with Siemens in the future.
But perhaps what best explains the current situation and the hostile relationship between the two parties is the issue of the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant. As was already mentioned, a national export license is needed for the control system to be supplied by the German-French consortium, since this is now a dual-use technology from a legal point of view.
However, the German government continues to block Siemens Energy’s delivery of the control system for the new reactor units at the Paks II nuclear power plant in Hungary.
The German company’s consortium partner, the French company Framatome, has already received approval.
In any case, Germany is currently pursuing a strongly anti-nuclear stance in its so called green transition, having recently closed its last nuclear power plants, while Hungary takes a completely opposite position on this matter.
In the meantime, it is worth noting that Siemens, despite being an independent German giant, has so far made no effort to make an argument on behalf of the Paks export case with the German government. Instead, it seems to have quietly resigned itself to politically motivated direct interference in German industry by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who is reportedly behind the continued obstruction.
Featured photo via Facebook/Siemens Mobility