Wednesday

23rd Aug 2017

Brussels unveils latest nuclear safety rules

  • EU countries host 132 nuclear plants (Photo: Fomal Haut)

The European Commission on Thursday (13 June) unveiled new ideas designed to prevent large-scale nuclear accidents happening in Europe.

Under the proposals - which the commission hopes will be agreed next year - all 132 nuclear plants in the EU will be subject to a review by a multi-national team once every six years.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Member states must commit to giving the plants a thorough examination at least once a decade, while plans to extend the lifetime of a reactor can only be given the go-ahead after it has been given a specific health check.

The rules would also see national regulators keeping up with the most modern technology and making public a strategy on how they would inform citizens in case of an accident.

Energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger called it a "comprehensive proposal," noting that it represents "substantial progress" in bringing "nuclear safety into the European domain."

He admitted the commission could have done more, but said some member states - particularly France, which operates 58 reactors - are reluctant to give Brussels new powers in this area.

"I am a realistic man," he said, adding "we've made a realistic proposal."

He noted that five years ago "there was nothing happening at the European level. There will be further steps. But this step is a big one."

The EU proposal was prompted by the nuclear disaster in Japan's Fukishima plant in 2011, where three reactors melted down following an earthquake and a tsunami. Around 160,000 people were forced to evacuate.

The incident caused much debate in Europe about the state of its own facilities and the nature of nuclear power, with Germany now due to phase out nuclear energy by 2022 as a direct result.

Meanwhile, stress tests carried out in the aftermath of the Japan incident revealed last autumn that nearly all plants in the 14 member states which use nuclear power need safety improvements.

Green groups were critical of Oettinger's proposal.

Greenpeace said it does "little to rule out a European Fukushima" and said it does not factor in deliberate sabotage or terrorism.

"The proposed partial testing of nuclear power plants every six years would also leave some parts of a plant untouched for decades," said the NGO.

German Green MEP Rebecca Harms called the proposal "seriously underwhelming."

Meanwhile, Oettinger is set come with a likely more controversial proposal by the end of the year on insuring nuclear plants.

Egg scare prompts review of EU alert systems

Health ministers' meeting called to discuss improvements to EU alert systems, but Danish and French authorities said pesticide levels in eggs too low to harm people.

EU cautious with German diesel plan

The European Commission welcomed the German carmakers' pledge to update software in diesel cars, but is waiting for details on how emissions will be reduced.

US leaves Paris climate deal

Trump said Paris deal “punishes the United States”, even though treaty leaves it up to nations to determine own climate contribution.

News in Brief

  1. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  2. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  3. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings
  4. Putin sends EU-blacklisted ambassador to US
  5. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  6. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  7. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  8. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference