The EU takes the lead on nuclear safety with the amendment to the Nuclear Safety Directive
The EU's new Nuclear Safety Directive was adopted today by the Council. It provides more power and independence for national regulatory authorities, a high-level EU-wide safety objective, and a European system of peer reviews. It will also introduce periodic national safety assessments and on-site emergency preparedness and response arrangements. In addition, it increases transparency and improve education and training. The 2014 directive amends the one in force since 2009. It provides a stronger framework for EU nuclear safety, as called for by the EU Heads of State or Government following the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima.
The European Commission welcomes today's adoption by the Council of the amendment to the existing Nuclear Safety Directive.
Vice-President Günther Oettinger said: "This Directive is a major contribution to enhancing the safety of nuclear installations and promoting a strong safety culture in Europe. In a region where over a quarter of electricity and over half of the low-carbon electricity produced comes from nuclear energy, it is crucial to ensure safe operation of nuclear power plants. With the revised directive, the EU shows its leadership in nuclear safety".
The amended Nuclear Safety Directive reinforces the provisions of the 2009 directive, by:
strengthening the powers and independence of national regulatory authorities that supervise the activities of nuclear operators;
introducing a high-level EU-wide safety objective to prevent accidents and avoid radioactive releases outside a nuclear installation;
setting up a European system of peer reviews on specific safety issues to be carried out every six years by the Member States through their competent regulatory authorities using the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) and building on the technical expertise of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA). The first topical peer review will take place in 2017;
increasing transparency on nuclear safety matters by ensuring that information is made available to the public both in normal operating conditions of nuclear installations and in case of incidents or accidents;
providing for an initial safety assessment before a nuclear installation is built as well as for periodic national safety assessments, at least every ten years, to re-evaluate the safety of the installations and identify further safety improvements; and
enhancing the consistency of national on-site emergency preparedness and response arrangements.
highlighting the importance of the human factor by promoting an effective nuclear safety culture through management systems, education and training and arrangements by the operator;
The amended directive takes account of the lessons learned from the EU nuclear stress tests and is based on various sources, such as European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association(WENRA) or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It also integrates the contributions of the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee as well as input by industry and civil society.
Member States will have to transpose the provisions of the directive in national law within three years.
Following the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011, the EU Heads of State or Government called on the Commission to review the existing legal and regulatory framework for the safety of nuclear installations and propose any improvements that may be necessary.
The 2009 Directive provided Europe for the first time with a common safety framework based on the Euratom Treaty, making international nuclear safety principles legally binding in all Member States.