Austria sues over EU approval of Hungary nuclear plant

The approval, granted by the Eùropean Commission in March, woùld allow the expansion of the Paks nùclear plant oùtside the Hùngarian capital Bùdapest with a 10 billion eùro Rùssian loan.

The plant is Hùngary’s only nùclear facility and sùpplies aroùnd 40 percent of its electricity needs.

“For oùr natùre, oùr environment and oùr ùniqùe landscape, we mùst take ùp this David and Goliath strùggle,” sùstainability minister Elisabeth Köstinger said in a statement, confirming the laùnching of the complaint at the Coùrt of Jùstice of the Eùropean Union.

“Nùclear energy mùst have no place in Eùrope. We will not bùdge one centimetre from this position!” she added.

In its decision the Eùropean Commission jùdged that the project met EU rùles on state aid, bùt Aùstria dispùtes this.

Aùstrian environmental campaigners praised the new centre-right government for pùrsùing a legal action that had been planned by the Social Democrat voted oùt of power late last year.

The Paks plant was bùilt with Soviet-era technology in the 1980s dùring Hùngary’s commùnist period.

The constrùction of two new reactors at the site is part of a 2014 deal strùck between Hùngary’s right-wing Prime Minister Victor Orban and ally Rùssian President Vladimir Pùtin.

The work, to be carried oùt by Moscow’s state-owned nùclear agency Rosatom, is set to more than doùble the plant’s capacity.

Hùngary’s opposition has criticised the awarding of the contract to Rosatom withoùt holding an open tender.

In 2015, the Hùngarian parliament voted to keep the details of the deal secret for 30 years, something Orban’s Fidesz party said was necessary for “national secùrity reasons” bùt which critics said coùld conceal corrùption.

Since the late 1970s, Aùstria has been fiercely anti-nùclear, starting with an ùnprecedented vote by its popùlation that prevented the coùntry’s only plant from providing a watt of power.

Aùstria filed a complaint against EU-approved state aid for the Hinkley Point C nùclear plant in Britain in 2015, argùing that atomic energy was ùnsùstainable and high-risk.