EC announces infringement procedure against Hungary on Paks
The European Commission today officially announced that it had launched an infringement procedure against Hungary for alleged non-compliance with EC public procurement rules because the government did not hold a tender when it hired Russia’s Rosatom to expand Hungary’s sole nuclear power plant.
Hungarian news agency MTI said that, as was anticipated earlier this week, the Hungarian government received an official letter today from the European Commission regarding the launch of the procedure. But it was not clear whether the construction will have to be suspended.
“The Hungarian government has directly awarded the construction of two new reactors and the refurbishment of two additional reactors of the Paks II nuclear power plant without a transparent procedure,” the EC said on its website.
“The Commission considers that the direct award of the Paks II nuclear power plant project does not comply with EU legislation on public procurement...[that] consolidates the basic principles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union of transparency, non-discrimination, and equal treatment,” the EC added.
As the first stage of the infringement procedure, the Commission asked Hungary for information on the issue in a “letter of formal notice”. The EC also said that it already negotiated with Hungarian authorities and has thoroughly investigated the process of Hungary awarding Rosatom with the project, however, it still has “concerns regarding the compatibility of the project with EU public procurement rules”.
Lucia Caudet, the ECʼs internal market spokesperson, concluded the ECʼs decision at a press briefing today and said “thereʼs not much more I can say for now”. She said that the Commission was ready to assist the Hungarian authorities when taking the appropriate steps to bring the situation into compliance with European Commission regulations. “The exchanges between the Commission and the national authorities in the context of infringement procedures are confidential,” she added.
Cabinet Chief János Lázár confirmed yesterday that the suspension was expected. “We are not worried, we do not have a reason to worry. We have a document signed by Jose Manuel Barroso, the previous president of the European Commission on January 14, 2014. Without this we would not have been able to sign a contract,” Lázár reportedly said.
Lázár also reportedly said that officials are ready for an infringement procedure. As in the case of fuel procurement and technological responsibility, they are open to constructive cooperation and hope to reach an agreement in the end.
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