The development of a new nuclear plant is a complex and laborious matter that requires, besides a favourable political context and the agreement of the public opinion, the completion of special safety standards-related requirements, as well as the financial and technical capability of the participants to a project of this kind.
Recent relevant examples are to be found in the architecture of the contractual and financial arrangements for the nuclear plant project in Hinkley Point C, Great Britain, or in the construction- stage developments for the nuclear plant in Olkiluoto, Finland.
Such examples are relevant and may represent case studies for Romania, which is currently seeking to expand its production capacity under the project for the development and commissioning of Units 3 and 4 of Cernavoda nuclear plant.
In this respect, we notice that, in what project Hinkley Point C is concerned, the European Commission announced on 11 March its decision to approve the partnership between Électricité de France (EDF) and China General Nuclear Power (CGN) for the development, construction and operation of three nuclear plants in Great Britain, including Hinkley Point C. The Commission concluded that, considering the parties’ market shares and the structure of the market on which other competitors are also present, the envisaged partnership shall not affect competition.
The approval of the partnership between EDF and CGN comes after the European Commission’s decision taken in October 2014 to approve the state aid support scheme for Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, which was considered compatible with the requirements of the European law in relation to state aid measures, after an investigation that lasted 1 year. The support to be provided by the British Government will include the contracts for difference mechanism, but also other guarantee measures.
Note must be made that Hinkley Point C project has faced a strong opposition from certain member states and non-governmental organisations that filed claims aimed at annulling the European Commission’s decision to approve the state aid scheme, invoking the wrongful application of the provisions of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the lack of a common interest in supporting nuclear energy. It is yet to be seen whether the arguments of the European Commission in relation to the approval of the state aid scheme will be invalidated or not and what the impact on the project will be.
Coming back to the European Commission’s decision to approve the partnership between EDF and CGN, the Commission’s considerations should be published in approximately two months as of the passing of the decision. To the extent applicable relative to the specific nature of the each project, the British experience may represent a valuable and favourable precedent including for Romania.