Az oldalt gondozza: Energiaklub

Obviously public?

2012. 1. 2.

"This is like a battle between David and the Goliath of the energy lobby", remarked a commenter on Facebook about the verdict of the court. The Metropolitan Court of Budapest obliged the Hungarian Power Companies Ltd. (MVM Zrt.) to disclose the data of the Lévai project on the planned expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant. This is only one of the data requests submitted by the Energiaklub in the course of the Control Energy Program (CEP) in the past two years. This raises the question – with additional topicality provided by the recent Wikileaks scandal –, what information should be public? What data can or must be public, and what are the data whose disclosure may do more harm than good?

We would like to declare that in our data request practice to date we have always followed the principle that we only pursue the disclosure of information that should be made public. We do not aim to publish information involving technological issues, national security or private data. Such data are usually protected by Hungarian law. But we do aim to make information related to the budget and state expenditures accessible for everyone, and to ensure that the public can use this information (understand it, use it, distribute it). We also know that the energy sector, especially the nuclear power industry is very protective of its secrets all around the world. But we also believe that information the public should know shall not be refused by claiming it contains trade or technological secrets. The verdict of the Metropolitan Court reflects the same approach: it is obvious that data from the Lévai project should be made public.

But why is the freedom of information important, especially in the energy sector?

How could we make a decision on any issue if we have insufficient or incomplete information, or even false information? As much as the energy sector is fundamentally important, it is a very complicated area: responsible decisions, whether on individual or political level, cannot be made without being properly informed. It is also essential to know exactly how we are provided electricity, for how much, with what additional costs, and whether we can diminish our expenses in a given case. Finally, a complete information environment helps us to identify corruption cases and take action against them, thus the publicity of energy-related information can be of great help in the fight against corruption. These are the reasons why we requested data pertaining to the Lévai project about the preparation of the planned expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant.

In the course of the CEP we have had a lot of experience with other similar data requests. (These and our related suggestions were summarized in our study .) We have been successfully applying our experiences in the “Applying the Aarhus Convention [1] in the nuclear energy sector in Hungary” work group for two years.  One of the important elements of this convention is a suitable closing thought: “Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.”


[1]Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters