Monday

23rd Sep 2019

Europe delays nuclear stress tests

  • Berlin wants tougher tests on Europe's nuclear plants (Photo: Nicholas Sideras)

Europe's nuclear safety regulators on Thursday (12 May) failed to reach an agreement on 'stress tests' for nuclear plants, due to squabbling over whether to include terrorist attacks and other man-made disasters.

Backed by Berlin, EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger had insisted that potential terrorist attacks be part of the screening for checking the resilience of Europe's 143 plants. The issue was forced on the the political agenda following the nuclear crisis at Japan's Fukushima plant.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We are glad Oettinger and Barroso are asking for stronger stress tests than what is currently on the table," German chancellor Angela Merkel told a group of journalists on Wednesday.

But no deal was reached on the scope of the stress tests on Thursday following six hours of talks. Representatives from France and Britain insisted that nuclear plants should be examined only to see if they can withstand natural disasters.

"No final decision has been taken," Oettinger's spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said. Earlier that day, she insisted that the commissioner would not back down for the sake of an agreement.

"Commissioner Oettinger was very clear on that - he said he would like terrorist attacks and other man-made disasters included in the tests."

He would like to start as soon as possible, but for the credibility of the tests, the content is more important than the timing. If the result is good, credible, then he would prefer to talk longer than rather just get something quick," she said during a regular press briefing.

Apart from Germany, Oettinger's home country, Italy and Austria are also backing the stricter demands.

Another attempt to reach an agreement will take place in Prague on 19-20 May.

A further delay would most likely mean that the commission will not be able to keep its envisaged timeframe of presenting a report in December on the state of Europe's nuclear plants.

This story was corrected to include Austria instead of Sweden in favour of including terror attacks in the stress tests.

Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs

European People's Party group leader Manfred Weber defended Ursula von der Leyen's decision to rename a commission portfolio, partly dealing with migration, "protecting the European way of life". He said it means rescuing people in the Mediterranean.

Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing

Hungary was quizzed by EU ministers over its domestic crackdown on media, judges, academia and NGOs. Hungary's minister responded by saying the country had defended "the European way of life" for centuries, and it should be respected.

EU divided on how to protect rule of law

Poland and Hungary have argued that rule of law is purely a domestic matter and the EU should respect legal traditions, but Dutch foreign minister warned backsliding was a worry for all.

Catalonia celebrates national day ahead of trial verdicts

Catalonia celebrated on Wednesday its national day - while awaiting the trial verdict on 12 Catalan separatists, former politicians of Carles Puigdemont's government. That decision is expected for early October.

News in Brief

  1. Doubt cast on new Maltese inquiry into slain reporter
  2. March by Slovak Catholics seeks abortion ban
  3. 600,000 stranded on holiday as Thomas Cook collapses
  4. Egypt: hundreds of protesters arrested over weekend
  5. Global car industry fears no-deal Brexit shock
  6. France: de-escalation between US and Iran priority
  7. Spain demands UK 'reciprocity' on resident rights
  8. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us