The Federal Government intends to reach an 'agreement in principle' with Engie on the extension of two nuclear reactors, with a view on finalising further negotiations by December of this year.
In March, due to the soaring energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine, the government decided to postpone its planned decommissioning of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors. Instead, they extended them for a further 10 years, until 2035.
Tinne Van der Straeten, Federal Minister for Energy, announced in the beginning of July that the cabinet should achieve an agreement by July 21, before parliament goes into summer holiday.
With a day to go until the deadline, it appears unlikely that the government and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will have completed the negotiations with the energy group. As a result, the 'agreement in principle' on the extension that will be submitted to parliament on July 21 will only be a letter of intent.
In reality, it will serve as a framework for future discussions with Engie, with a final agreement on the extension to be announced in December of this year.
How are the negotiations going?
According to L'Echo, this agreement is the first step in the Federal Government's three-step strategy, which includes a memorandum of understanding with Engie in September and a formal agreement announced before the end of the year.
- Nuclear: Doel 3 and Tihange 2 cannot be extended for safety reasons
- Nuclear extension: Engie negotiations should conclude by September
- Doel 1 and 2 nuclear plants on the back burner due to the heat
However, negotiations with the energy group appear to be complicated as Engie no longer have any interest in expanding these reactors.
As a result, the government must satisfy Engie's requests in order to facility any further talks.
What are Engie demanding?
To begin, Engie wants the state to co-finance the expansion of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors. For them, it is critical that they are not the only ones to bear the financial burden of this operation.
With another report from L'Echo stating that the government is actively discussing the nationalisation of these reactors, it appears that Engie may have gotten their wish.
Additionally, the company wants the €14 billion they have set aside for the dismantling of power plants to be discussed during these negotiations. This is despite the government maintaining that taxpayers should not be required to pay for it.