Austria takes EC to court over Paks decision

23 February 2018

Austria has launched a lawsuit against the European Commission for its approval of Hungarian state subsidies for the construction of two new reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant.

Paks - new unit location 460 (Paks NPP)
The new units would be adjacent to the four existing Paks reactors (Image: Paks NPP)

The Paks plant, which is 100 km south of Budapest, currently comprises four Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurised water reactors, which started up between 1982 and 1987. An inter-governmental agreement signed in early 2014 would see Russian enterprises and their international sub-contractors supply two new units at Paks - VVER-1200 reactors - as well as a Russian state loan of up to €10.0 billion ($11.2 billion) to finance 80% of the project.

Hungary received the go-ahead to start construction of new nuclear power units at Paks this year as planned, following the Commission's approval last March of commitments the country had made to limit distortions in competition. The Commission concluded that Hungary's financial support for the Paks II project involves state aid, but it could approve this support under EU state aid rules on the basis of these commitments.

Austrian Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Köstinger announced on 22 January that Austria intended to file a lawsuit against the EC. The deadline for filing a suit to challenge the Commission's decision at the European Court of Justice was 25 February.

Köstinger said yesterday, "We announced this lawsuit a few weeks ago and now we are bringing it in."

The case will now be considered by the European Court of Justice and a notice will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union within the next few months.

Project company MVM Paks II received an environmental licence in September 2016 and in October that year submitted a site licence application for the two new units. The Hungarian National Atomic Energy Office issued the site licence in March last year. The first unit is to be completed in 2025 and the second in 2026.

Austria, which shares a border with Hungary, has no nuclear power plants. It launched a similar legal action against the Commission in 2015 over its approval of the UK's support for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project in Somerset, England.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News