Lazar: Hungary seeks solution to Paks deal with EU
Budapest, March 13 (MTI) – The Hungarian governmnent is in talks with the European Union on the Paks nuclear upgrade and it seeks a solution which would guarantee a safe supply of fuel for the country, Janos Lazar, the head of the prime minister’s office, said.
The British business daily Financial Times wrote on Thursday that the European Commission had blocked a 12 billion euro agreement between Hungary and Russia for the expansion of the Paks nuclear power station. The decision was made at a meeting of EU commissioners in Brussels last week, the paper said.
The European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) had earlier rejected the Paks deal on grounds that Russia should not be the sole supplier of fuel rods to Hungary. Hungary appealed the decision but the European Commission decided to agree with Euratom in the matter, the paper said.
Lazar told public Kossuth radio on Friday that it is not in the EU’s interest to block the Paks project as Hungary needs nuclear energy for cheap electricity and to curb environmental pollution. He said there are some parts of the Paks upgrade which Euratom and the EU approves and parts which it disputes. Euratom, for instance, would like to see other fuel suppliers besides Russia. During recent talks with Euratom, it seemed there was “good chance” for clearing up the issues, Lazar said.
“A solution acceptable for the European Commission, Russia and Hungary is in the making,” he said.
The Hungarian government said it expected to conclude the supply contracts after “intensive talks” within weeks, taking into account the concerns raised by the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
Spokesman Zoltan Kovacs called a Thursday report by the Financial Times “false and completely misleading”. The British business daily Financial Times wrote that the European Commission had blocked a 12 billion euro agreement between Hungary and Russia for the expansion of the Paks nuclear power station. The decision was made at a meeting of EU commissioners in Brussels last week, the paper said.
A spokesman for state-owned Rosatom told Reuters news wire that the firm had “nothing to add to the position of the Hungarian government, which is denying a newspaper report that the European Union is blocking Russian nuclear fuel imports to Hungary”.
Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, EC spokesperson for energy affairs, said on Friday that Brussels was not blocking the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant. She told MTI that the EC was rather only dealing with the contract on the supply of fuel. She said the commission had addressed the Paks project at its meeting on March 2 but that information she could give at this point was “very very limited” due to the documents’ confidential nature. She said, however, that Hungary had authorised the EC to lift the classification of the documents and the EC could soon comment.
Itkonen said that the Commission had acted under section 53 of the Euratom agreement, which stipulates that the matter is governed by the Euratom supply agency and the EC, while the latter body has a right of veto. She added that member states have several options to appeal against decisions or re-negotiate contested