Germany-Russia nuclear pact ruffles French feathers

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France regrets a recent decision by Germany’s Siemens to start a “strategic partnership” with Russia in the nuclear energy field, a leading French expert close to the Paris government told EURACTIV.

On 3 February, Siemens CEO Peter Löscher was received by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, with the latter announcing that Siemens and Russia’s Rosatom are launching a “large-scale partnership, ready to work in Russia in Germany as well as in third countries”. 

Löscher proposed the establishment of a joint working group in view of “reaching concrete decisions by end-April,” according to a transcript of the meeting, available on the Russian government website. 

Claude Mandil, a former executive director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) who drafted a report on the EU’s energy security for the French government, said he regretted the move by Siemens. 

“As a Frenchman and a European-minded citizen, I regret that this is not a European partnership any more,” Mandil told EURACTIV on the sidelines of a conference organised in Brussels by IFRI, the French Institute of International Relations. 

“The European partnership which existed between Siemens and Areva was broken, maybe due to past mistakes, but I don’t want to elaborate on that. But it was broken on Siemens’ initiative,” Mandil said. 

According to the former IEA chief, it is bad news that such a strategic partnership in the nuclear field is no longer an EU affair. But the French expert also saw positives in the fact that Germany is showing resolve in refusing to back down from nuclear energy. 

“On the positive side, I would be extremely happy if Siemens can stay involved in the nuclear business. I think it is key for Germany to remain a nuclear country. If Siemens does that with the Russians, then in my view it’s not the best solution. The best solution would have been with [French company] Areva. But it’s a much better solution than stepping down from nuclear,” said Mandil. 

French daily Le Monde wrote that the looming nuclear agreement between Moscow and Germany favours Putin’s political project of dividing the Europeans, while at the same time increasing his country’s energy-export capacities. 

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