06 March 2017: EU Commission decided that state subsidies for Paks II are not illegal – legal challenges will follow both from the Austrian government and electricity utilities

The European Commission (EC) today closed an in-depth state aid investigation into Hungary's plans to provide financing for a possible construction of two new nuclear reactors, so called 'Paks II' (Paks 2). Concerned with the EC's decision, the Joint Project takes a quick look at the pending plans for nuclear new-builds across the EU.
Patricia Lorenz, speaking on behalf of the Joint Project groups, warns that "As a result of similar approvals, in a few year's time, up to 19 GW of the installed capacity could be state-controlled and subsidized to a large extent to the detriment of the respective Member States' tax-payers and electricity consumers." "Few years ago, the governments used to claim that no public money would be involved for new nuclear power plants for their own countries and the EU institutions were joining the choir. However, now state aid is officially accepted as the only way to build a new nuclear power plants.”
The Paks II project is receiving a green light for a state-aid scheme as second, just after the positive decision awarded two years ago by the EC to the UK Government who has been forwarding its extremely controversial Hinkley Point C project (at this stage, in the procedure of complaint filed to the ECJ by Austria and Luxembourg).
Wheareas, as a general rule, decisions for state aid for nuclear new builds in the EU have to be applied on a case-by-case basis, and as there are several other Member States (MS) more pursuing their own plans for nuclear new builds without securing any tangible finances, yet, NRPC network has taken a closer look at the candidate MS's from six selected countries, most prominent in their planning, namely: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania as well as the UK - all in terms of their potential hindrances to wheel in state-aided new reactors. Also, an extended background to the Hungarian situation is provided [2].
The Commission wanted in particular to assess whether a private investor in Paks II would have financed the project on similar terms or whether Hungary's investment constituted state aid. If the project was found to involve state aid, the Commission would have set to investigate whether it would have led to distortions of competition in particular on the Hungarian energy market.

The decision is not public yet, the non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.38454 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website.


[1] See the EC press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-464_en.htm
See also the opening statement by the EC: "State Aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Hungarian investment support for Paks II nuclear power plant", European Commission's Press release of 23 November 2015; http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-6140_en.htm

[2] See the background paper by the Joint Project on possible state-aid in the EU entitled: "After Hinkley Point C, now the European Commission agreed on the support scheme for Paks II – More reactors with public funding in the EU?"

Costs of nuclear power

A brochure was published in 2013 on "Costs of Nuclear Power". Costs of nuclear new-build, radioactive waste storage and decommissioning of shutdown plants, and also costs of nuclear accidents and liability are discussed, with special focus on the situation in the countries of the Joint Project NGOs (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania). The brochure can be downloaded here.
In 2016, the European Court of Auditors reportes about costs of EU nuclear decommissioning assistance programmes in Lithuania, Bulgaria and Slovakia.


The possibility of getting EURATOM-loans for the construction of NPP is important due to the high importance of financing NPP construction on the future of nuclear industry.
Hence, the topic “EURATOM loans” was covered within the Joint Project 2012/2013. An evaluation paper on the EURATOM-loans was produced and used as basis for the lobbying activities of the Joint Project group.

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