Hungary, EU Court ruled against Austria in case over NPP Paks expansion

, SEE Energy News

The General Court of the European Union, the second-highest court after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), has dismissed an action brought by Austria in order to annul the European Commission’s decision to approve the expansion of Hungarian sole nuclear power plant Paks.

According to the ruling, the EC approved investment aid is in large part financed by a loan in the form of a revolving credit facility of 10 billion euros granted by Russia to Hungary in the framework of an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Austria is historically one of the EU’s most fervent anti-nuclear countries and is currently suing the European Commission over its green label for nuclear power in the EU taxonomy. Austria could now take the matter up with the highest instance – the European Court of Justice.

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said that this is a great victory for Hungary, adding that the General Court has ruled that the licensing process fully complied with EU standards. He also stressed that Hungary is taking great care to ensure that NPP Paks expansion project meets the strictest possible environmental and other technical requirements, as safety is obviously the most important issue when building a nuclear power plant.

In January 2014, Hungarian Government has signed deal with Russia`s Rosatom, with a goal to increase output of the power plant, from current 2,000 MW to 4,400 MW by adding two more reactors. Under the agreement, Russia will provide 10 billion euros loan for the construction of new unit in existing NPP, which is around 80 % of estimated construction cost. According to initial plan, first unit was supposed to become operational in 2023. The latest estimates put the start of production at new units in 2029-2030.