Following the Chernobyl reactor accident in 1986 the safety of Soviet-design reactors finally became a very sensitive issue, which was addressed, among others, in the last two EU enlargement processes. At the end, these discussions lead to the decision for the shut down of several reactors in new Members States, in particular in Bohunice (Slovakia), Ignalina (Lithuania) and Kozloduy (Bulgaria).
The Commission’s position regarding Ignalina, Kozloduy and Bohunice has remained consistent and in line with the G7 Multilateral Programme of action adopted at the Munich G7 summit in 1992. At that time it was already clear that so-called High Power Channel Type Reactors (RBMK) and first-generation reactors of Soviet design could not be economically upgraded to a required level of safety and should thus be closed down.
During the accession negotiations, the Lithuanian, Slovakian and Bulgarian Governments committed themselves as part of their Accession Treaties to close such reactors. This was a central issue in the negotiations with all three countries, and an important part of the whole package of rights and responsibilities. To help them meet this commitment, substantial Community assistance in addition to that provided under the former PHARE programme were agreed.
Until 2013 the financial assistance included:
In December 2013 two new Council Regulations (one for Lithuania (CR + Corrigendum ), another one for Bulgaria and Slovakia (CR + Corrigendum )) were adopted providing additional financial assistance for the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020 and limiting it to the projects for decommissioning and waste management.
The overall financial support for the three programmes in the period 1999-2020 is foreseen in the amount of € 3816 million.
The assistance is implemented through the International Decommissioning Support Fund (IDSF), managed by the European bank for Reconstruction and Development ( EBRD). To all three funds (one for each Member State) the European Commission is the main contributor. In Lithuania part of the assistance programme is made available through a direct support to the country where funds are managed by a national agency ( CPMA) nominated by the EC.
Measures funded from the assistance programme in all three countries go far beyond pure decommissioning and dismantling projects and cover also for example the design and construction of a landfill facility and near surface repository for the management of radioactive waste, the treatment of operational waste and support to the nuclear regulators and nuclear waste agencies.
The Commission is responsible for providing the financial support in due time and to ensure the efficient and effective use of the Community funds. Therefore close working relations have been established with EBRD and CPMA as managers of the funds and with the beneficiaries of the programme. The European Commission continues to encourage not only the exchange of information between decommissioning services of different Member States but also between all parties involved in the project (nuclear power plant, contractor, national authority).
In 2011 the European Commission published a Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the use of financial resources during 2004-2009 provided to Lithuania, Slovakia and Bulgaria to support the decommissioning of early shut-down nuclear power-plants under the Acts of Accession (accompanied by a working document ).