The French company Framatome is likely to take over from Germany’s Siemens Energy for the supply of the control technology for the new Paks reactors, after the Berlin government still refuses to allow the company’s participation in the expansion of the nuclear power plant, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced in Paris on Wednesday.
Péter Szijjártó. Photo: MTI/Szigetváry Zsolt
Following a meeting with the CEO of the French energy company EDF, the minister stressed that Hungary’s energy security and the maintenance of the achievements of the reduction of the energy bill can be guaranteed in the long term primarily by a significant expansion of nuclear power generation.
He stressed that the contract amendments for the Paks project had recently been approved by the European Commission, so that the project could now be accelerated, with the government expecting an increasing French presence.
Photo: Facebook Annalena Baerbock
“The control system was intended to be a German-French consortium, but the German government is not allowing the German company to participate, so the French will certainly take over in terms of control technology,” he said. As we had reported earlier, Siemens’ export license for the control unit is blocked by the German Ministry of Foreign affairs lead by Annalena Baerbock. Although her department has never issued an official statement or explanation for the refusal to sign the license,
the move is widely interpreted as being politically motivated, due to the ideological differences between the conservative government of Viktor Orbán, and the left-wing coalition in Berlin.
File Photo: Twitter Framatome
Péter Szijjártó recalled that the US company GE that won the contract to supply the turbines, was also bought by a French company. “All this means that the French added value, the French participation, the French contribution to the Hungarian nuclear industry will increase enormously,” he stressed.
Szijjártó said that this is in Hungary’s interests, as Budapest and Paris agree on one strategic point, and that is the protection of nuclear energy. “Some European political actors and a large part of the Brussels bureaucracy are trying to push nuclear energy out of the European energy market. They have tried, they are trying to make nuclear energy impossible, but the French have organized a coalition here in Europe of twelve countries who are firm and consistent in our support for the use of nuclear energy,” he said.
“We will not accept negative discrimination against nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is a clean, cheap, safe way to generate electricity,”
“Hungary and France are acting together on this issue, so there is a political consensus and a common economic interest in linking the French and Hungarian nuclear industries much more closely than before,” he added.
The minister also held talks this morning with the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) and with various executives of Thales Alenia Space and Servier. He stressed that cooperation with the ESA would be stepped up after Hungary selected four astronaut candidates, one of whom would carry out various scientific experiments on the International Space Station for a month. He also announced that a contract will be signed in September with the US company Axiom Space.
Due to the Berlin government’s radical climate goals and political activism, German industry is increasingly loosing out on major contracts internationally and is facing ever stricter restrictions at home. Despite all this, it is hard not to detect an amount of criticism directed at Siemens’ leadership in the Foreign Secretary’s words. It is difficult to see what went on behind the curtains between Berlin, Budapest and Siemens’ boardroom, but the common perception is that the German company did very little to make a case for its right to fulfill contracts with Germany’s EU and NATO partner Hungary, and had passively bowed to political pressure instead. As a result János Lázár, Hungarian Minister of Construction and Transport, had cancelled an order for hundreds of Siemens locomotives and train carriages, which will hurt the German giant’s profits further.
File Photo: Pixabay