Wednesday

21st Apr 2021

Brussels against exporting nuclear waste outside EU

  • France is one of the biggest nuclear waste producers in the EU (Photo: Stefan Kühn)

Brussels is against member states exporting their nuclear waste to countries outside the EU or to store it in joint sites, energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger said, as the commission is working on a set of common safety standards for this dangerous material.

"It is the duty of national politicians to do their homework," Mr Oettinger told Financial Times Deutschland in an interview published on Wednesday (10 March). The German commissioner warned against common storage sites, as well as exporting the radioactive material outside the EU, for instance Russia.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The Times last month reported of plans to ship high-level nuclear waste from Western member states to eastern European ones, for burial in a central underground storage facility, which would be a cheaper option.

But in Mr Oettinger's view, such plans are out of the question. Special waste export for economic reasons was "scandalous and dangerous", he said, adding that it applied to nuclear waste as well. Placing this material outside the EU borders, was also a no-go because Brussels had no ways of inspecting those sites, he said.

The European Commission will table by the end of this year a set of common safety standards for nuclear waste storage across the EU, the commissioner added.

Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso announced these plans on Monday in Paris, during a conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The question of radioactive waste storage was a "major concern" for the EU public opinion and a precondition for "safe, durable and optimal use" of nuclear energy, Mr Barroso said.

Most European countries using nuclear energy keep the waste in interim storage facilities, but several governments are now moving on setting up deep geological repositories for permanent use.

The first site is due to be up and running in Finland in 2020, followed by Sweden three years after and France in 2025, experts who addressed a forum at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), have said in a "vision paper", AFP reported last month.

Only 15 out of the 27 EU member states have nuclear plants, with a total of 145 reactors. France is one of the biggest nuclear waste producers, with its 59 reactors producing almost 80 percent of the country's electricity.

Brussels has no say on the choice of building or closing such facilities, which is made exclusively by national governments and sometimes requires a national referendum. The Austrian public, for instance, rejected the use of a brand-new nuclear reactor in 1978, which was built but never switched on.

EU negotiators strike deal on climate 'law of laws'

The European Parliament and the European Council reached an agreement on the first-ever EU climate law - raising the current 2030 emission-reduction target from 40 percent to around 55 percent (including carbon sinks).

Opinion

Biden's withdrawal and Afghan migration to EU

Afghans in 2020 constituted the second-largest group of asylum seekers arriving in Europe - outlining the necessity to accelerate the reform of the EU migration regime to avoid another crisis.

News in Brief

  1. European 'Super League' falls apart
  2. Concern growing Russia to recognise Ukraine 'republics'
  3. Spain withdraws judicial appointments reform
  4. Dozen EU countries confident of July adult-vaccination target
  5. EMA: Johnson & Johnson jab benefits outweigh risks
  6. Prague asks EU and Nato states to expel Russian diplomats
  7. Global CO2 energy-related emissions to rise 5% in 2021
  8. Ukraine: Russia 'will soon have 120,000 troops at border'

Column

Europeans are Russian pipeline addicts

In the eyes of the Russian elite, most of Europe is just a bunch of spoiled, decadent, pipeline addicts that takes its illusions for reality, and can be easily played with.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. EU negotiators strike deal on climate 'law of laws'
  2. 'Dire' suffering continues in Ethiopia war, EU envoy says
  3. Study: EU 'largely lost leadership' on media freedom
  4. Facebook users in EU get more Covid disinformation than US
  5. EU sends vaccines to Balkans, in wake of China and Russia
  6. Biden's withdrawal and Afghan migration to EU
  7. Europeans are Russian pipeline addicts
  8. Czech leader downplays Russian bomb attack

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us