A common nuclear market in the EU was created by the Euratom Treaty. Art 52 of the Treaty established the Euratom Supply Agency (ESA) to ensure a regular and equitable supply of nuclear fuels to EU users in line with the objectives of Art 2(d). To perform this task, ESA applies a supply policy based on the principle of equal access of all users to ores and nuclear fuel.
In this context, ESA focuses on enhancing the security of supply of users located in the European Union and shares responsibility for the viability of the EU nuclear industry. In particular, it recommends that EU utilities operating nuclear power plants maintain stocks of nuclear materials and cover their needs by entering into long-term contracts with diversification of their sources of supply.
ESA’s mandate is, therefore, to exercise its powers and, as required by its Statutes, to monitor the market to make sure that the market activities of individual users reflect the values set out above.
Art 52 of the Euratom Treaty requires ESA to conclude supply contracts for nuclear material (ores, source material and special fissile material) in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 6. Contracting parties are utilities, an operator of a research reactor in the EU or a producer/intermediary selling nuclear material (imports into or exports from the EU, as well as intra-Community transfers). When concluding supply contracts, ESA implements the EU supply policy for nuclear materials. ESA also has a right of option to purchase nuclear materials produced in the Member States.
On the basis of the Euratom Treaty, ESA also monitors transactions involving services in the nuclear fuel cycle (enrichment, conversion and fuel fabrication). Operators are required to submit notifications giving details of their commitments. ESA verifies and acknowledges these notifications.
Moreover, as the market is becoming increasingly complex, the remit of the Agency was strengthened by the Council Decision of 12 February 2008 establishing ESA's Statutes which entrusted the Agency with the creation of a nuclear market observatory in order to
- Provide the Community with expertise, information and advice on any subjects connected with the operation of the market in nuclear materials and services,
- Monitor the market and identify market
that could affect security of the European Union’s supply of nuclear materials and services.
The observatory role of ESA has been further enlarged to
cover the aspects of the supply of medical radioisotopes in the EU,
following, on one hand, the Council Conclusions “Towards the Secure
Supply of Radioisotopes for Medical Use in the EU” (2010 and 2012)
prepared in response to an increased fragility of the current
production chain, which relies on an unsustainably low number of
ageing research reactors, and, on the other hand, to strive to
obtain the necessary supplies of nuclear material for enriched
uranium targets used for radioisotope production.
last update 19.06.2014