Luxembourg and Austria are going to sue the European Commission for allowing Hungary to expand its Paks nuclear plant, Luxembourg announced on Monday (5 March), in a firm stand against nuclear energy. Stubbornly anti-nuclear Austria, who is Hungary’s neighbor, has said that it would initiate a lawsuit against the EU executive with Europe’s top court. “We are going to actively support Austria’s claim,” Luxemburg’s environment minister Carole Dieschbourg said, adding that “it is important that no public funds be invested in nuclear power. It is definitely the wrong way.”
Hungary is planning to build two new reactors at its Paks nuclear site. The construction will be helped by Russia’s Rosatom, a Russian state corporation headquartered in Moscow that specializes in nuclear energy, and has been given a green light by the EU Commission. The regulators justified their approval by saying that Hungarian authorities had agreed to several measures to ensure fair competition. In response to the looming legal action, the EU executive said that it would defend its decision in court. In many such complex cases, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice has ruled in favor of the Commission’s decisions.
Approximately 30% of the electricity produced in the EU is generated by nuclear power. There are 130 nuclear reactors in operation in 14 EU countries. It is up to the decision of each EU member state to decide whether to include nuclear power in its energy mix or not. Nuclear power currently being produced is released by a process called nuclear fission that involves the splitting of atoms using uranium to release energy. The peaceful use of nuclear energy within the bloc is regulated by the 1957 Euratom Treaty, which established the European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom. Though a separate legal entity from the EU, Euroatom is governed by the EU’s institutions.