Ladies and Gentlemen,
When we say nuclear, we say global. As we have
learnt through tragedy over more than 25 years,
radiation knows no borders.
The European Union therefore strongly welcomes
this United Nations initiative for a global,
comprehensive reflection on nuclear safety
issues. We support tighter international rules
for safe and sustainable use of nuclear energy,
and we have, in our own realm, taken the lead on
The European Commission is already carrying out
an EU-wide safety and risk assessment of nuclear
facilities, together with national nuclear
This assessment began in June and proceeds along
two tracks, with progress reports to be made
public in December 2011:
Track 1 on safety assesses how nuclear power
plants can withstand disasters – be they
natural or man-made. Obviously, we need a
broad and rigorous approach here. These
checks go beyond previous evaluations made
during the licensing process.
Track 2 on security focuses on potential
security threats and the prevention and
response to incidents due to malevolent or
Two of the three steps in the assessment process
are already complete. Namely: the operators'
self-assessment and verification by national
The third stage is the peer review of the
national reports, which will start in January
2012. We are open to allowing third countries to
join this peer review process on the basis of
In the light of the results,
we will then follow-up, including if need be by
new Europe-wide legislative proposals. Our goal
is clear: we will ensure the highest safety and
security standards for our citizens.
We are already enforcing two key pieces of EU
legislation, the EU Safety Directive (2009) and
the recently adopted Directive on Radioactive
Waste (July 2011).
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the interests of transparency and a stronger
global safety culture, the Commission is ready
to share the results of these on-going EU stress
tests. Likewise we welcome sight of assessments
in other countries.
Building on the clear statement by the G8
Leaders in Deauville, the European Union
considers that all countries operating nuclear
power plants should carry out similar
assessments as soon as possible.
The EU's neighbours – Switzerland, the Russian
Federation, Ukraine, Armenia, Croatia, Turkey
and Belarus – have already agreed to undertake
comparable safety and risk checks.
This coherent approach by our whole region sets
an example for the global community, and adds to
our already well-established cooperation with 15
countries under the Instrument for Nuclear
Beyond the wider European
region, we clearly need to work for global
progress on nuclear safety cooperation. The IAEA
can play a key role in developing a common
global approach to nuclear safety. The action
plan adopted yesterday is a welcome step forward.
The 5th Review Meeting of the Convention on
Nuclear Safety in April 2011 showed the need to
make this instrument more legally binding.
The European Union is committed to offering
whatever assistance that helps to increase the
effectiveness and enforceability of the
We offer our safety and risk assessment process
as a starting point for such enhancements, as
well as tangible support through the EU
instrument of nuclear safety.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The tragedy of Fukushima has yet again
demonstrated that we need a true cross-border,
global approach to nuclear safety.
Japan's heartache must become the world's spur
to action. In the name of all those affected by
Fukushima, I commit the European Union to play
its part and I urge the strongest possible
common, global approach.