After taking the decision of the European Commission for granted the night before it was due to be announced, Thursday’s dailies launch what will certainly be a drawn-out debate on the extension of Hungary’s nuclear power station in general, and its award to Russia’s Rosatom in particular.
In its front page editorial, Népszabadság excoriates the government for unilaterally opting for the Russian investor without proper procurement procedures. This was bound to trigger a veto by Brussels, the authors write. The number one left-wing daily deems it unacceptable that in the tenth year of her EU membership, Hungary has bypassed potential European competitors by identifying the Russian nuclear giant as the winner. “The only way European rules could have been more brutally disregarded would have been by introducing customs controls along our borders with Austria,” Népszabadság bitterly remarks.
In Magyar Hírlap, Éva Horváth quotes Fidesz sources accusing the Hungarian Left of consistently lobbying in Brussels to have the Paks project halted. “As always, the Left stands against the national interest” – the Fidesz parliamentary group reacted to a statement in which former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition urged that the extension of the nuclear power station be taken off the agenda.
In its letter to the Hungarian government, the European Commission expressed concern over the procedure chosen, and asks for all further measures in the preparation of the project to be halted until Hungary replies to the objections raised (within 60 days) and the Commission decides whether to file a lawsuit against Hungary in the European Court of Justice. The case may take years to settle, but there is no immediate urgency – the four old blocks of the Paks power station will not have to be decommissioned before the 2030s.