Downplaying the announcement by Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár on Thursday that the European Commission had approved technical contracts related to the Paks 2 expansion, Hungarian MEP Benedek Jávor says the approval means nothing more than the Commission approving the safety aspects of the nuclear reactor’s operation.
Jávor says the Commission never had problems with the technical plans for the Paks 2 expansion.
“The news here isn’t that the European Commission approved the contracts, the news is that it took them until now to approve the plans,” says Jávor. The MEP attributes this delay to what he says is the Commission’s distrust of the Hungarian government.
Jávor says the government’s big problem has nothing to do with technical contracts, and the real problem will be addressed when the Commission concludes its investigation into whether the Paks 2 expansion will involve state subsidies without an open call for tenders. Should the Commission determine this to be the case, the Paks 2 expansion would involve “restricted state support” and would violate EU regulations intended to encourage competition.
According to Jávor, the Hungarian government has not been cooperative with the Commission in providing information that would help the investigation along. The MEP says the government is essentially obstructing progress, hoping that the fact the project is far along (and vast sums of public money have been expended) will dissuade the Commission from issuing a negative decision.
“The situation could be compared to János Lázár hopping on the 6 tram and announcing with a big smile that the transportation authority ticket-checkers have not charged him with tax evasion. This, of course, doesn’t mean Lázár was not involved in tax evasion, and it certainly doesn’t mean Lázár wasn’t busted for riding the tram without a valid ticket,” Jávor writes.