EC: We're not trying to block Paks deal

Recycling

Brussels will not stop the planned expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant by Russian state-owned firm Rosatom – instead the European Commission is dealing with specifics on the contract for supplying fuel, the EC spokesperson for energy affairs Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said today.

Responding to a query by Hungarian news agency MTI, Itkonen reportedly said that the EC had addressed the Paks project at its meeting on March 2 but that information she could give at this point was "very, very limited" due to the documents' confidential nature. She added that Hungary had authorized the EC to lift the classification of the documents and the EC could soon comment.

A report yesterday from the Financial Times said that the Commission has blocked Hungary's €12 billion deal with Russian energy firm Rosatom to expand the nuclear power plant in Paks. The EC's nuclear regulator Euratom reportedly rejected a plan under which the nuclear fuel for Paks would be shipped from Russia exclusively. 

The Financial Times reported that Hungary would have to negotiate a new deal on the supply of fuel to the plant or else appeal the EC's decision. The paper said the EC decision was sure to increase tensions between Moscow and Brussels.

Hungary receives more than half of its electricity from the plant at Paks, which was built during the Soviet era. The plant is said to need an upgrade, although critics have questioned the lack of transparency behind the deal with Rosatom, which included a €10 billion line of credit from Russia. 

Those critics raised the alarm after March 3, when the Hungarian Parliament voted in favor of making the Paks-related deal classified for 30 years.

The statement from the EC indicates that some parts of the deal will now be declassified, though it is not clear how much of the deal will be revealed to the public.

Cabinet Chief János Lázár, who is in charge of overseeing the expansion, said earlier it was “entirely the same” if the Paks deal is made confidential for 15 years or 30, insisting that the entire debate is “theoretical and pointless” as there is “no single” nuclear contract in the world that has been made public.

Attila Aszódi, the commissioner in charge of the expansion, also said that making the contract details of the expansion confidential for 30 years is in accordance with both Hungarian and European Union laws, adding that the head of the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Attila Petérfalvy, had been consulted prior to the classification.

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