May, 12th 2020
From Peter Mihok, member of the Slovak nongovernmental organisation ‘CEPTA – Centre for Sustainable Alternatives’ and member of NTW.
In the 2000s, the Slovak Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) faced significant challenges with respecting a rather strict tenor of the Slovak Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (1). Since May 2010, a controversial FOIA amendment allowed the NRA to consider the complete content of nuclear sector documents confidential, in contrast with the previous practice of blacking out confidential and/or sensitive information (2). A significant amount of evidence suggests that this FOIA amendment was made as a part of long‑term efforts to dispose NGOs of their former rights for real participation in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and permit procedures of related investment projects, in particular to disallow NGO participation in decision‑making regarding the Mochovce nuclear power plant (NPP) completion (3). Moreover, the European Commission (EC) had threatened Slovakia with withholding the refund of about €8 billion from the EU structural funds in 2009 because of removing NGO rights in the EIA Act amendment from 2007, on a top of launching an infringement procedure against Slovakia because of removal in 2008, in order to force Slovakia to correct the EIA Act “back into its original compatibility with the EU Acquis” (3). Furthermore, the Slovak Supreme court had confirmed earlier findings from the UNECE Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC) of non-compliance with regards to the permit procedures for the completion of the Mochovce NPP, in order for the Slovak authorities to finally start an EIA procedure for this nuclear sector project that would at least fulfill the countries international obligations (4).
In 2019, the Slovak parliament approved a new FOIA amendment, which provided for yet more reasons to classify information/documents falling under the Slovak Atomic Act as confidential, which directly became subject of further UNECE ACCC findings and requests for Slovakia to correct its FOIA in particular with regards to nuclear sector information/documents (5). This was explicitly reflected in the pre‑election program document of the political party with the acronym OĽaNO which, quite as a surprise, in the end won the Parliamentary elections in Slovakia held on 29 February 2020 (6). CEPTA, a member organisation of Nuclear Transparency Watch (NTW), will keep on following the developments in this regards and update the NTW members.
See the 2 pages factsheet on the topic: 20200512__Mihok__Slovakia_transparency_update-_ NTW_factsheet