Attila Aszódi delivers his speech yesterday at the opening. (Photo: MTI/Noémi Bruzák)

Aszódi and Kirill Komarov, deputy CEO of Rosatom, the general contractor for the expansion, said that the construction of the new blocks will begin in 2018. This is in line with earlier plans.

The conference takes place two weeks after the European Commission (EC) announced an infringement procedure against Hungary over granting the contract to expand Paks to Russiaʼs Rosatom without a tender. The EC also launched an in-depth investigation to assess whether the financing of the Paks upgrade does not constitute state aid. Russia is to provide Hungary with a €10 billion loan that would cover 80% of project costs.

Aszódi said they will answer the Commissionʼs questions in due time and in a professional manner. He maintained that the project could be completed without state support, and repeated that Hungary has a right to grant the expansion to a third country if the regulations of Euratom and the European Commission are observed.

He reiterated that the share of Hungarian suppliers could reach 40% under the 2014 intergovernmental agreement on the project, noting that under the implementation contract signed in December 2014 the general contractor has the right to choose its subcontractors.

Rosatom has already worked with Hungarian suppliers in the preparatory phase, Komarov said, adding that at the peak of construction some 4-5,000 Hungarians may be asked to work on the project. Komarov was confident that Hungarian businesses could supply equipment as well.

In response to a query, Komarov said that it is the Hungarian partner who negotiates with the Commission. He noted that it is not general practice to invite tenders for nuclear plant construction given the number and complexity of the criteria involved.

The Atomex conference and exhibition attracted approximately 300 participants from Central and Western Europe.