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Orbán to Barroso: Paks deal will strengthen EU energy security

Hungary’s agreement with Russia on the construction and financing of an upgrade to its sole nuclear power plant will support stronger energy security for the entire European Union, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso late in January.

“We believe that the long-term cooperation of Hungary with the Russian Federation in the field of nuclear power will contribute to strengthening the energy security of the EU as a whole,” Orbán said in the letter, dated January 23 and published on the government’s website on Wednesday.

Hungary signed an agreement in mid-January on the construction of two blocks at the Paks nuclear power plant by Russia’s Rosatom. Russia is lending Hungary €10 billion at favorable rates to cover 80% of the project’s costs.

Orbán said in the letter that Hungary had decided on the intergovernmental cooperation with Russia after “a lengthy consideration of the various alternatives.” According to the letter, this choice best ensures compatibility with the existing Russian reactors at Paks, “a primordial (sic) safety consideration,” and builds on decades of successful cooperation with Russia in the field of nuclear fuel supply and spent fuel treatment.

The PM noted that Hungary had submitted to Brussels a draft of the intergovernmental agreement for prior assessment on December 10, 2013. After the Commission raised no objection to the draft, the government signed the agreement on January 14, 2014.

“The new Hungarian-Russian intergovernmental agreement has been drafted in full consideration of the applicable EU rules and regulations,” Orbán said in the letter. “The signed instrument makes a specific reference to obligations Hungary is bound by under EU legislation. In particular, Hungary is aware of the various notification requirements vis-á-vis the Commission that Hungary will fulfil in due time.

“The Hungarian authorities will continuously inform the Commission of the implementation of the...cooperation agreement as well as any future follow-up agreements,” wrote Orbán.