Budapest (MTI) – The European Commission’s approval of the upgrade of Hungary’s Paks nuclear plant will secure the country’s energy needs with low prices for the next six decades, government office chief János Lázár told a regular press briefing on Thursday.
Lázár hailed the outcome as a triumph of economic diplomacy.
The project has cleared all legal obstacles set by the EU and preparatory work will start this year, while construction will begin in 2018, he said.
The commission found that Russian technology complies with all EU and international requirements. Hungary had the right to conclude the contract with Russia and the conditions of Hungarian state financing abide by EU rules, Lázár said.
Lázár cited a preparatory financial study on the project by the Rothschild Group, which concluded that the upgraded power plant would pay for the costs of its fuel, operation, maintenance, waste management and eventual dismantling while generating a profit of 3-4 percent.
Lázár insisted that the power plant’s ability to turn a profit was guaranteed by the fact that Hungary had signed a fixed-price contract for its expansion and would receive a “turnkey” nuclear plant.
He said the EC had taken into consideration Hungary’s improving financial indices.
Lázár said Hungary was now in a position where it could mull how to draw on the loan from Russia. Hungary will also calculate the costs and financial effects of paying back the Russian loan without taking up another one.
The government office chief also said that Austria had indicated its intention to take part in the process of obtaining permits for the upgrade.
He said Hungary will constantly update the EU on the project’s progress, adding that he did not expect any moves to be made that would affect the investment’s implementation.
Lázár insisted that the upgrade was an economic rather than a political matter, and called it “regrettable” that certain political parties had made the project a part of their election programmes. Lázár referred to the opposition LMP and Dialogue parties, which have both launched referendum campaigns on the Paks upgrade.
Lázár said the Hungarian public had re-elected ruling Fidesz in 2014 in full knowledge of the government’s plans for the investment.