The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy has reviewed a draft of Hungary’s agreement with Russia on an upgrade to its sole nuclear power plant for compliance with the Euratom Treaty, a copy of a letter posted on the government’s website late on Thursday shows.
Hungary signed an agreement on January 14 on the construction of two blocks at the Paks nuclear power plant by Russia’s Rosatom. Russia is lending Hungary 10 billion euros at favourable rates to cover 80 percent of the project’s costs.
“After examination of the draft Agreement, I would like to inform you that my services did not find any element that would as of itself impede the application of the Euratom Treaty in the meaning of its Article 103,” Dominique Ristori, Director-General of thethe European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, told Peter Gyorkos, Hungary’s permanent representative to the European Union in Brussels.
Article 103 of the treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community requires EU member states to communicate draft agreements with third countries or international organisations in so far as they concern the application of the treaty. The EC has a month to make comments on such treaties, and states are prohibited from concluding such agreements until any objections raised by the EC are removed.
Ristori acknowledged the receipt of Hungary’s notification of the draft agreement with Russia in December last year.
He recommended that Hungary make a reference to “nuclear safeguards” in the agreement and instructed correct references to be made to the safeguards agreement with the IAEA.
Ristori also reminded Hungary that contracts on the supply of nuclear materials must be submitted to the Euratom Supply Agency, that authorisation of the EC is required to export nuclear waste, and that the EC must be informed of modifications to the agreement with Russia.
He asked Hungary to inform the EC of “specific measures taken to ensure that the signature and implementation of this draft Agreement will be fully in line with the obligations of Hungary as a Member State of the European Atomic energy Community” and said the EC would “remain at your entire disposal for any further discussion on this issue”.
In a letter dated February 7, EC President Jose Manuel Barroso told Prime Minister Viktor Orban that the EC had raised no objections to the draft agreement.
“[The EC] provided your government with some substantial observations but raised no objections of principle to the agreement,” Barroso said in the letter, posted on the government website on Wednesday.
The letter was written in response to one from Orban, dated January 23 and also published on the government website. In that letter, Orban said the agreement would support stronger energy security for the entire European Union.
“We believe that the long-term cooperation of Hungary with the Russian Federation in the field of nuclear power will contribute to strengthening the energy security of the EU as a whole,” Orban said in the letter.
The new Hungarian-Russian intergovernmental agreement has been drafted in full consideration of the applicable EU rules and regulations, Orban said. “The signed instrument makes a specific reference to obligations Hungary is bound by under EU legislation. In particular, Hungary is aware of the various notification requirements vis-a-vis the Commission that Hungary will fulfil in due time,” he added.
“The Hungarian authorities will continuously inform the Commission of the implementation of the cooperation agreement as well as any future follow-up agreements,” Orban said.
In his response, Barroso said the EC “respects Member States’ basic choices concerning their energy mix”, but noted that full compliance with the rules of the Treaties and secondary legislation as well as acting “in a spirit of coordination and full transparency” were “vital”.
Prime Minister’s Office state secretary Janos Lazar on Thursday said said there would be further talks with Brussels on a number of questions concerning the Paks upgrade. Brussels has basically ensured its support of the programme, he added.