Austria takes EC to court over Paks nuclear power plant expansion in Hungary

Hungarian nuclear power plant controversy : Austria has sued the European Commission for its approval of Hungary’s expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant, in line with a threat it had issued last month.

Vienna, which has been strongly advocating against the use of nuclear energy for several decades, has gone ahead with a lawsuit against the Commission at the European Court of Justice for granting permission for neighboring Hungary to expand the 1,889MW atomic power station.

Elisabeth Koestinger – Austrian Sustainability and Tourism Minister has confirmed that Vienna has indeed initiated a legal challenge, as reported in Reuters.

Commenting on the case opposing the Paks nuclear power plant expansion, Elisabeth Koestinger has been quoted by the news agency to have said: “We must take up this David-versus-Goliath struggle for the sake of our nature, our environment and our unique countryside.

“Nuclear energy has no place in Europe. We will not deviate from this line by even a centimeter.”

Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary

Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary. Photo courtesy of Barna Rovács (Rovibroni)/

For Hungary though, the expansion project is highly important as Paks nuclear power plant is the country’s only nuclear power project, which as such meets 40% of its electricity consumption.

Austria has been strongly opposing the expansion of the Hungarian nuclear power plant following a green signal from the European Union in March 2017. The approval is for adding two new nuclear power reactors, of 1,200MW each at the Paks nuclear power plant, thereby, more than doubling its capacity.

The only condition that needs to be met by Hungary is that it has to make sure that the anti-competition laws are following during the nuclear power plant expansion.

The Paks nuclear power station, which is owned by MVM Group, has been in operation since 1982 after breaking ground in 1967.

It currently features four operating nuclear power reactors, with three of them having a power generation capacity of 473MW and the other capable of generating 470MW.

Hungary plans to build two VVER-type nuclear power reactors with the help of Rosatom, a Russian nuclear energy company. Construction work for the nuclear reactors of the Paks nuclear power plant is scheduled to begin this year with an aim to bring up the first reactor in 2025.

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