The Austrian government has stepped up the rhetoric ahead of a vote on Wednesday on whether to allow the UK press ahead with its €20.4bn Hinkley Point nuclear power project.

The Austrians are contesting the guaranteed price for power produced by the plant and Vienna has confirmed that it has sent a letter to the European Commission’s president threatening to take legal action against the Commission through the European Court of Justice if the deal is allowed to go through.
Chancellor Werner Faymann
Chancellor Werner Faymann and Vice-Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner sent a letter to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on Friday saying Austria would “reserve” the right to take legal steps should the project gain a stamp of approval in Brussels.

“Should the EU Commission undertake this step, then it must expect a lawsuit at the highest court,” added Faymann, who was also quoted as saying “Alternative forms of energy are worthy of subsidies, not nuclear energy.”

Meanwhile his deputy, Mr Mitterlehner said. “Hinkley Point would set a negative precedent of opening this type of subsidy for nuclear energy. The Commission must prevent this, if not it must expect a lawsuit from Austria at the European Court of Justice,”

The project is vital to UK energy security amid ageing coal and nuclear power plant closures while developer, the French-state owned EDF sees the deal as a major export contract that will boost its nuclear industry.