Decision 4/2021 on the investment project in relation to the capacity conservation of the Nuclear Energy Plant of Paks
22 January 2021
Decision number: Decision 4/2021. (I. 22.)
Subject of the case:
Posterior norm control against Section 5 of the Act VII of 2015 on the investment project in relation to the capacity conservation of the Nuclear Energy Plant of Paks and modifying certain related acts (exclusion of access to data of public interest)
In addition to rejecting the motion for posterior norm control, the Constitutional Court established as a constitutional requirement that Section 5 of the Act on the investment project in relation to the capacity conservation of the Nuclear Energy Plant of Paks and modifying certain related Acts is applicable to the subcontractors of the Russian party and the subcontractors of the Hungarian party only if they are considered to be organisations performing a public duty. Section 5 of the Act excludes, for a period of thirty years from the date of its creation, the disclosure of all “business data”, “technical data” and “data on which a decision is based” as data of public interest related to the implementation of the expansion of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant. The petitioning MPs asked the Constitutional Court to declare this provision to be contrary to the Fundamental Law and to annul it with retroactive effect to its promulgation. According to the petitioners, this is contrary to the fundamental right to have access to and disseminate data of public interest and to the provision of the Fundamental Law stating that all organisations managing public funds must give public account of their management of public funds. In its decision, the Constitutional Court established that the disclosure of the data for the purpose of substantiating the decision may be restricted by a specific Act of Parliament in accordance with the Act on the Right to Informational Self-Determination and Freedom of Information. The protection of national security interest and intellectual property rights indicated by the challenged Act may justify a restriction on the disclosure of the data for the purpose of substantiating the decision. The Constitutional Court further held that, contrary to the petitioners’ claim, the text of the Act prescribing thirty years for the closure of the data concerned cannot be considered a disproportionate restriction, as it cannot be held an ex lege restriction; it is only a statutory presumption assuming that within this period the publicity of the data could damage the values to be protected. However, as the Act itself requires a “public interest test” to be performed, the restriction can only be applied if there is a greater public interest in it than in the disclosure of the data concerned. In view of all this, the Constitutional Court found that the challenged provision of the Act did not cause any unnecessary or disproportionate restriction of the referred to provisions of the Fundamental Law, therefore it rejected the petitioners’ motion for posterior norm control. However, in order to facilitate the application of the law, the Constitutional Court considered it necessary to establish as a constitutional requirement: the challenged provision of the Act is applicable to the subcontractors of the Russian and Hungarian parties only if they are to be regarded as organizations performing a public duty.