9 May (NucNet): The European Commission has opened an investigation to assess whether public support measures from Romania for the state-owned National Uranium Company (CNU) are in line with EU rules on state aid to companies in difficulty.
The EC said on 8 May 2018 that a planned restructuring of CNU would involve around €95m of support to the company in the form of grants, subsidies, debt write-off and debt-to-equity conversion. The planned restructuring follows an urgent rescue aid loan of around €13.3m to keep the company afloat, which the EC temporarily approved on 30 September 2016.
EU rules only allow state intervention for a company in financial difficulty under specific conditions, including that the company is subject to a sound restructuring plan to ensure its return to long-term viability. The company should contribute to the cost of its restructuring and any competition distortions must be limited.
The EC said it has doubts that the planned restructuring aid is in line with these conditions.
The investigation will examine whether the proposed restructuring could restore the long-term viability of CNU without continued state aid. It will look at whether CNU or market investors will contribute enough to restructuring costs to ensure that the restructuring plan does not rely mainly on public funding.
CNU produces fuel for nuclear power plants. It operates a uranium mine at Crucea-Botusana in northern Romania and a processing-refining plant in Feldioara, central Romania.
Romania has two commercially operating nuclear plants at Cernavodă with plans being discussed for two more at the same site.