VIENNA (Reuters) - Staunchly anti-nuclear Austria has filed a legal challenge at the European Court of Justice against the European Commission over its approval of Hungary’s plans to expand an atomic power plant.
Austria’s new government, an alliance between Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives and the far-right Freedom Party, has pledged to continue Vienna’s decades-long policy of opposing nuclear power.
It said last month that it would file the legal challenge against the expansion of the Paks power plant situated near the border it shares with Hungary.
“We must take up this David-versus-Goliath struggle for the sake of our nature, our environment and our unique countryside,” the minister for sustainability and tourism, Elisabeth Koestinger, said in a statement on Thursday announcing the government had started the case.
“Nuclear energy has no place in Europe. We will not deviate from this line by even a centimeter.”
A spokesman for the EU executive said: “The Commission will defend its decision in Court.”
In March, EU state aid regulators approved Hungary’s plan to build two new reactors at its Paks nuclear site with the help of Russia’s Rosatom, saying Hungarian authorities had agreed to several measures to ensure fair competition.
The two new reactors will double the plant’s nominal capacity of 2,000 megawatts. Hungary aims to start construction on the reactors this year, with the first facility expected due to be completed in 2025.
In most complex cases of this kind, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice has found in favor of the Commission.
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Reporting by Francois Murphy; Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels; Editing by Alison Williams