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Nuclear safety

The EU promotes the highest safety standards for all types of civilian nuclear activities, including power generation and waste storage, research and medical uses.

Primary responsibility for the safety of nuclear power plants lies with their operators who are supervised by the national independent regulators. For its part, the Commission plans to put in place more stringent EU‑wide safety rules as a response to the Fukushima accident.

The Commission also works closely with countries outside the EU, in particular with its immediate neighbours. In cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it provides assistance to ensure that countries planning to start using nuclear energy meet internationally recognized safety standards and have the necessary safety infrastructure.

 Amended Nuclear Safety Directive

In order to keep nuclear installations safe and enhance European leadership on nuclear safety worldwide, the EU amended the 2009 Nuclear Safety Directive on 8 July 2014. The amendment is based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear accident, EU nuclear stress tests, and the safety requirements of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) and the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA).

The new Directive:

  • Strengthens the power and independence of national regulatory authorities
  • Introduces a high-level EU-wide safety objective to prevent accidents and avoid radioactive releases
  • Sets up a European system of peer reviews on specific safety issues every six years
  • Increases transparency on nuclear safety matters by informing and involving the public
  • Promotes an effective nuclear safety culture.

Further information:


Commission and the IAEA sign a memorandum of understanding - 17 September 2013

The International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding on nuclear safety which establishes a framework for cooperation to help improve nuclear safety in Europe. The memorandum was signed by EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger and IAEA Director General Amano. It creates an enhanced framework for planning various forms of cooperation, such as expert peer reviews and strengthening emergency preparedness and response capabilities. It will allow both organisations to benefit from each other's work, avoid duplication of effort, and contribute to strengthening nuclear safety worldwide.