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Nuclear energy

Activities within the European Union

In its Resolution of 22 July 1975 (OJ No C 185/1 of 14.08.1975) the Council considered that the technological problems relating to nuclear safety, in view of their environmental and health implications, called for appropriate action at Community level which would take into account the prerogatives and responsibilities assumed by national authorities.

The Resolution of 18 June 1992 (OJ No C 172/2 of 08.07. 1992) encouraged the continuation of the process of consultation and co-operation established by the resolution of 1975, and recommended its extension to third countries, notably to the CEEC and the NIS.

These two Council resolutions give a framework and working methods for the progressive harmonisation of safety requirements and practices.

The European Commission has worked with the support of expert groups for 25 years on these guidelines and has launched many studies and initiatives. These groups include representatives of Member States’ regulatory bodies, their technical support organisations (TSOs), and industry:

The Nuclear Regulators’ Working Group (NRWG), includes representatives of nuclear regulatory authorities from EU Member States and Applicant States of Central and Eastern Europe.

The Reactor Safety Working Group, which included all the EU regulatory bodies and industry, was discontinued in 1998. A new group, enlarged to all Applicant States, is being launched, with new terms of reference.

The Working Group on Codes and Standards dealt with the integrity of safety related mechanical components of nuclear power plants. Its activities have been suspended since 1998.

Their approach to "harmonisation" consists of a comparison of national practices, identification of common features, and analysis of the safety relevance of differences. Common technical opinions are expressed on certain safety issues, and, while these are not safety "standards", they are expected to promote good practice. On-going activities include safety aspects of ageing, applications of risk-based approaches and innovative technologies. These activities have been widely documented and published either as technical publications or as Communications to the Council and the European Parliament.

The Commission also relies on the technical expertise of its Joint Research Centre (JRC) (The Institute for Systems, Information and Safety (ISIS), the Institute for Advanced Materials (IAM) and the Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU) ). JRC’s involvement in harmonisation activities includes the organisation of benchmark exercises and management of specialised European networks.

All these activities are carried out in close co-operation with DG Research which manages nuclear safety research in the Euratom 7th Framework Programme.