Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said in Paris on Wednesday that France’s Framatome is set to take over the role of Germany’s Siemens Energy in the supply of the operational control system for the two new blocks of Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant.
Following talks with the CEO of France’s EDF electric utility company, Minister Szijjártó said the expansion of nuclear energy production is the best way to guarantee Hungary’s long-term energy security and sustain the achievements of the scheme capping household energy prices. Minister Szijjártó said the European Commission’s recent approval of the modifications to the contracts of the Paks plant’s upgrade could now accelerate the expansion, adding that the Hungarian government now expected a greater French presence in the project. Hungary had intended for the control system to be supplied by a German-French consortium, but the German government is not allowing the German company to participate, the minister said. Therefore, their role will most likely be taken over by the French, he added. The minister noted that US engineering giant GE, which has been contracted to manufacture and supply the turbines for the new blocks, has been acquired by a French company. “And this means that French value-added, French participation and French contributions to Hungary’s nuclear industry will increase significantly,” he said. Szijjártó said this was in line with Hungary’s interests, arguing that Budapest and Paris were in agreement on the strategic importance of protecting nuclear energy. “Certain European political players and Brussels bureaucrats are trying to push nuclear energy out of the European energy market,” the minister said. But, he added, France had organized a coalition of 12 European countries that firmly support the use of nuclear energy. “We don’t accept negative discrimination against nuclear energy,” he said. “Nuclear energy is indeed a clean, cheap and safe way of producing electricity.” Minister Szijjártó on Wednesday morning also held talks with the director general of the European Space Agency as well as leaders of Thales Alenia Space and Servier. Hungary is intensifying its cooperation with the ESA after having shortlisted the final four candidates to become the country’s next astronaut to participate in a mission on the International Space Station, he said, adding that the contract on the mission will be signed with US-based Axiom Space in September.