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27th Jan 2022

EU calls for worldwide nuclear 'stress tests'

  • Both Barroso and Van Rompuy stressed EU leadership in the area of nuclear safety (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Senior EU officials have called on world leaders to follow their example and implement a series of worldwide nuclear 'stress tests'.

Speaking at the start of a G8 summit in Deauville, France, on Thursday (26 May), European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the tests should form part of a global strengthening of nuclear safety standards.

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The call comes a day after EU member states agreed on the criteria for European nuclear safety tests, the bloc's main response to the nuclear accident at Japan's Fukushima plant.

"When we talk nuclear we talk global. We want nuclear stress tests to go beyond Europe," Barroso told a news conference.

"I will push for stronger global safety standards, notably through a revision of the Nuclear Safety Convention," he added.

The convention was adopted in Vienna in June 1994, based on UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) principles covering areas such as the design, construction, operation of nuclear power plants.

G8 member Russia has already proposed a strengthening of global nuclear safety standards, calling for mandatory rules that restrict the building of reactors in earthquake-prone areas, for example.

So far however, UN states have failed to reach an agreement on a binding global code and enforcing agency.

Barroso also called on reluctant G8 states to step up to the plate, after an international donor conference in Ukraine this April failed to raise the €740 million needed to replace the sarcophagus over the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

The current structure is now coming to the end of its life after being hastily built following the nuclear accident in 1986.

The EU's other representative at the Deauville Summit, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, also stressed the need for greater safety measures following the Fukushima accident.

"The EU has a clear message: nuclear safety is an absolute priority for us. We want to stick to the highest safety standards," Van Rompuy said at the same news conference.

But Greenpeace and the European Parliament's Green group were critical of the EU deal struck on Wednesday, branding the forthcoming safety checks as "stress tests-lite".

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