In response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, risk and safety assessments ('stress tests') were carried out on all EU nuclear power plants. Neighbouring countries were also associated with this and Switzerland and Ukraine participated fully. Beyond that, the European Commission encouraged and cooperated with nuclear regulators around the world to perform similar exercises.
The aim of the assessments was to check whether the safety standards used when specific power plants received their licences were sufficient to cover unexpected extreme events. Specifically, the tests measured the ability of nuclear facilities to withstand damage from hazards such as earthquakes, flooding, terrorist attacks or aircraft collisions.
Stress test results and follow-up
While the assessments found that the safety standards of nuclear power plants in Europe were generally high, further improvements were recommended. Nuclear regulators set up national action plans, which have been peer-reviewed by experts from EU countries and the Commission.
The implementation of the stress tests recommendations is a national responsibility and is ensured by operators and national regulators. The Commission is committed to support EU countries in this. Together with the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group, it closely follows the implementation of national action plans.
Security threats were an important part of the stress tests. They were addressed indirectly as, in the assessments, the consequences of any initiating event were considered.
They were also assessed in a separate process by the representatives of EU countries in the Council of the EU, where an ad-hoc Group on Nuclear Security was set up.