By Martin Kóňa
On January 1, we started to pay the price of our membership in the EU. One of the conditions of our entry in May 2004 was that we take two reactor blocks at the Jaslovské Bohunice nuclear plant off line. It was not a technical necessity, more a political deal. Our "30-something" reactors underwent an expensive upgrade a few years ago, and independent international nuclear experts at the time gave them many more years of life.
The operators of Slovakia's electricity network have reassured us that they prepared responsibly for the event, and that we need fear no blackouts. The problem is, however, that in closing the reactors Slovakia has lost its energy independence. In recent years we have grown accustomed to having enough electricity even to export it. Now the situation has changed, and we will barely be producing enough for our own needs. In two years, when we close the second reactor block, we will have to import, which is not advantageous for the economy. Across Europe, old energy production capacity is being taken off line, and the construction of new capacity is behind schedule. We can only hope that there will be enough electricity to go around when we need to start importing.
There is no doubting the advantages of our membership in the EU, and we cannot know whether our politicians might have driven a better bargain at the time. But the fact is that we are starting to pay for our membership, and the coming years will tell us whether we can afford the price.
Hospodárske Noviny, January 4
8. Jan 2007 at 0:00