(Adds Hungarian reaction, paragraphs 7-8)
By Shadia Nasralla
VIENNA, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Austria is planning to sue the
European Commission for allowing Hungary to expand its Paks
atomic plant, it said on Monday, not viewing nuclear energy as
the way to combat climate change or as being in the common
The country, which shares a border with Hungary, prides
itself on supporting environmentally sound energy. It has for
decades opposed nuclear power, which triggers huge disagreements
about cleanliness, safety, and renewability.
The anti-nuclear position was reiterated in a coalition
agreement struck last month between Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's
conservatives and the far-right Freedom Party.
"We in the government have agreed that there are sufficient
reasons to sue (the Commission)," a spokesman for Austrian
Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger said.
"EU assistance is only permissible when it is built on
common interest. For us, nuclear energy is neither a sustainable
form of energy supply, nor is it an answer to climate change."
EU state aid regulators approved last March Hungary's plan
to build two new reactors at its Paks nuclear site with the help
of Russia's Rosatom, saying Hungarian authorities had agreed to
several measures to ensure fair competition.
The two new reactors will double the plant's nominal
capacity of 2,000 megawatts. Hungary aims to start construction
on the reactors this year, with the first facility expected set
for completion in 2025.
"The Paks nuclear plant is the guarantee for providing a
cheap, reliable and safe supply of electricity to Hungarian
people and businesses," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's
office said in a statement.
"Therefore, the Hungarian government will stick to its plan
to ensure the maintenance of capacity at the Paks plant," it
said, adding that the lawsuit would not affect work on the
The deadline for filing a suit to challenge the executive EU
Commission's decision at the European Court of Justice is Feb.
25, the spokesman for Austria's Koestinger said.
In a majority of such complex cases, the European Court of
Justice in Luxembourg has found in favour of the Commission.
Austria launched a similar legal action against the European
Commission in 2015 over its backing of British plans for a 16
billion pound ($22.24 billion) development of the Hinkley Point
nuclear power plant.
($1 = 0.7195 pounds)
(Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; additional reporting by
Krisztina Than in Budapest; Editing by Gareth Jones/Jeremy
First Published: 2018-01-22 13:05:06
Updated 2018-01-22 18:26:15
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