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China’s Eve Power building first European plant in Hungary

China's battery producer Eve Power will build its first plant in Europe in Debrecen, in eastern Hungary, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday. Eve Power, the ninth-biggest battery maker in the world, will invest around 400 billion forints (EUR 3.7bn) in the plant which create over 1,000 new jobs, Szijjarto said, adding that the government was providing 14 billion forints to support the project. He added that German car maker BMW had asked Eve Power to supply a car plant it is building in Debrecen with next-generation batteries from a local production facility.

The foreign minister said the plant would be environment-friendly, covering 95 percent of the water used from purified waste water and ground waters.

He added that the government would finance new developments in Debrecen, such as modernisation of its water supply and sewerage system, using a budget of 108 billion forints. “I think those rightfully worried about water will be satisfied,” he said.

“It is a clear governmental objective to make Hungary a global forerunner of environment protection … we want to make Hungary one of the countries doing the most to protect the environment and save the planet,” he said.

“Without electric cars Europe’s green objectives cannot be met, and electric cars cannot be used without batteries,” he said. Without electromobility “the cause of environment protection would be lost, and we would lose the fight against global climate change,” he insisted.

Demand for batteries will increase tenfold by 2030, Szijjarto said, adding that “the question is where those plants will be built and who is going to profit out of those?”. “Countries successfully attracting battery plant projects will receive a long-term guarantee of economic growth,” he insisted, adding that there was fierce competition for such investments. Szijjarto said some countries “would do everything to win those projects, including fair and unfair means alike,” Szijjarto said, adding that unfair means included “misleading people and fear-mongering”. “Obviously, for people the safety of their home is most important … but abusing those concerns is not right and is not to be tolerated,” the minister said.

Residents in Debrecen “have nothing to fear about as regards the battery plant projects”, he said, adding that “Hungary applies a lot more stringent environmental criteria than the European rules”. “Those that won’t meet those criteria will simply not be permitted to build a plant in Hungary,” Szijjarto said.

All battery plants built in Hungary adhere to strict regulations

Hungary will not give up its position as the meeting point of investments from East and West, Szijjarto said, adding that despite “attempts to abuse people’s uncertainties”, it was important to understand that all battery plants built in Hungary adhered to strict regulations. Szijjarto told a conference on the vehicle industry organised by the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) that out of the world’s ten electric battery makers that cover around 95 percent of the global market, six are Chinese, three are South Korean, one is Japanese, and none are European. It is clear that “the East has taken over this industry”, he added.

For the first time in European economic history, large western European companies operating in a field that has a basic influence on the success of the European economy are nearly 100 percent dependent on suppliers from the East, he said.

This situation is difficult to accept, which might explain why the representatives of “large and strong” member states at European Union foreign affairs council meetings “beat on the table, not only in a symbolic sense”, demanding to reduce the economic influence of Chinese companies on the continent.

“At the same time, when I meet large western European company leaders, they regularly ask me to convince suppliers from the East to come to Hungary,” he added.

Szijjarto said that outside of Germany and China, it was only in Hungary that all three premium carmakers from Germany have factories. Additionally, three of the world’s ten largest electric battery makers are present and a new investment will be announced soon, so the number will increase, he added.

Commenting on the attacks against electromobility investments, he said that the construction of new plants always triggered a sense of uncertainty in local communities.

“While it’s easy to abuse people’s natural concerns for health in their living environment, we must still ask all political players to act responsibly and not mislead people and not to abuse people’s legitimate concerns,” he said.

He underlined the government’s intention to continue supporting investments required for electromobility, “because these can keep the economy on a growth track”.


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