Russian Tech Nuclear Plant for Hungary Helped by Brussels Politics

A detailed study of meetings, emails, minutes, and memos from 2016 shows the European Commission playing a middle-man on the Paks II project. The latter is to be a Russian-made nuclear power station. The Commission clearly backed away from further escalating tensions related to the controversial project. The 200 pages long documentation shows that the Europeans did not want any possible deterioration with Budapest over the issue. The contract was finally awarded to Rosatom, a Kremlin-owned enterprise. No bids were opened for this project. This is illegal as EU law states that competitive bidding must be had for these kinds of projects.

Defending Rosatom

Benedek Javor, the MEP from the Hungarian Green party obtained the documents. He did it via a request to access all documents as per EU transparency rules. The Commission took almost a year to accede to all his demands. Javor opposed Paks project. The documents show Hungary tasted failure in the latter part of 2015 and during the initial few months of 2016 to defend the contract being awarded to Rosatom. The reason for Rosatom being the sole provider of nuclear technology capable of solving Hungary's technical requirements was finally accepted. The latter took place post the conception of the project in 2014. The cause of awarding the contract was written as 'technical continuity'. These two words were written by Hungary when the Commission complained to it in 2016.

Business competition

Westinghouse Electric, the US company, was Rosatom's rival. The former discussed Paks II with the then Government of Hungary. The US company gave compelling evidence to cancel the contract with Rosatom. The American company even said that it is all set to submit a competing bid. All things went into naught as Brussels gave Budapest permission to choose the Russian company. Hungary also promised to solicit bids for the Paks II subcontracts. In an EU bonus, this deal made sure that the subcontracts may go in favor of European companies.

Hungary's pledge to go as per the directions set by the standards of the Commission for subcontracts permitted it to go with the Rosatom deal. Officials of the European Commission described it as a 'global political solution'. The three words were found in a memo written as early as March 2016. Javor views the deal- permitting Hungary to bypass one tender in-lieu of holding the others- as legally weak. It was clear that the relation between the EU and Hungary had soured.

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