INFORSE-Europe logo

Search on the site:
Facebook INFORSE Facebook INFORSE-Europe CAUSE: 100% RE INFORSE Twitter
EnglishSpanish French Hungarian Slovak Polish German
About Us Contact Us Member Database Contact Database Support Us
PortugueseRomanian Turkish Bulgarian Macedonian Russian Danish
  100% Renewables
Seminars & Events
  LCS Network
  Press Releases
United Nations
European Union
  Nuclear Energy
  Structural Funds


School Resources
  Study tours 
  Success Stories 
  Test yourself Quiz
  Useful Links

EU Energy Policy:
- Nuclear Safety, Directives, and Stress Tests

Updated: December 2014

EU has a nuclear safety directive, updated July 2014, require EU countries to have national nuclear safety requirements, independent regulators and transparency, but effectively leaves safety and also decommissioning funding with national governments. It is working together with directives on radiation protection

Index of this Page
· Content of the nuclear safety directive Read
· Radiation Protection Directives Read
· Decommissioning of nuclear installations

· Distortion of Electricity Market, INFORSE-Europe Opinion Read
· Nuclear Stress Tests Read
· European Nuclear Energy Forum Read

 · A bit of History (from 2002) Read

Nuclear Safety Directive

The nuclear safety directive require that countries shall:
· Maintain a national legislative, regulatory and organisational framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations, with allocation of responsibilities · · Have set safety a system of licensing of nuclear installations;
· Have an independent nuclear regulator with sufficient funding
· Have a system of regulatory control of nuclear safety performed by the national regulatory authority;
· Ensure that nuclear license holders (of for instance nuclear power plants) have the prime responsibility for their installations;
· Ensure transparency with necessary information for nuclear safety given to workers and to the public, including prompt information in case of incidents and accidents;
· Ensure that the general public has appropriate opportunities to participate effectively in the decision-making process relating to the licensing of nuclear installations;
· Ensure that national frameworks require that nuclear installation are made, used and decommisioned with the objective of preventing accidents and should an accident occur avoid early radioactive releases so off-site measures cannot be implemented in advance, and avoid large radioactive releases that cannot be limited in area or time;
· Ensure that national frameworks require that accidents within the design basis are controlled and that for accidents beyond that, their progression is prevented and consequences are mitigated;
· Ensure that an an effective nuclear safety culture is promoted;
· Carry out a self-assessment of the national frameworks at least every 10 years;
· Ensure that national frameworks require that nuclear license holder re-assess their installations every 10 year.

In this way the directive effectively leaves nuclear safety as well as decommissioning to the individual countries, under above general guidelines. The technical details are to a large extent left to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The directive is 2009/71/Euratom with amendments 2013/59/Euratom and 2014/87/Euratom. The above provisions shall all be implemented until 2017 in national legislation. See also EU Information page. The directive has a "sister directive" for nuclear waste.

Radiation Protection Directives
In December 2013 the Directive 2013/59/EURATOM was adopted with basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation. This directive set standards for the allowed radiation from materials in human surroundings, such as recycled materials from nuclear power activities. It repeal four old directives from 1989-2002.

In October 2013, the Council Directive 2013/51/EURATOM was adopted with requirements for the protection of the health of the general public with regard to radioactive substances in water intended for human consumption.

The directives have been criticized for not taking sufficient care of radioactive materials eaten or inhaled that can be accumulated in the human body.

Read the directives at the EU Information page.

Decommissioning of Nuclear Installations
While nuclear decommissioning is covered by the nuclear safety directive and the waste in generates there is also an EU guideline on decommissioning from 2010 and an Euratom recommendation from 2006. These are not binding documents for the EU countries as the directives are, but should in general be followed as good practices.
Read the EU Information Page.

Distortion of Electricity Market, INFORSE-Europe Opinion
The directive leaves a crucial aspect unregulated. There is no regulation of the establishment and use of decommissioning funds for nuclear power plants. The directive just state that countries "....shall ensure.... . .that nuclear installations are ....decommissioned with the objective of preventing accidents....." This lack of regulation gives an unhealthy distortion of the internal electricity markets, where some power companies have these funds at their disposal for decades until they are needed for decommissioning. Large power companies such as the French EdF and German BWE & E-On uses these funds to buy-up of competitors. Other companies do not have this opportunity, either because they have no nuclear power plants or because national regulations do not allow it.
This market distortion must be stopped. Thus we propose that the EU Commission introduce legislation to ensure that utilities create separate legal entities to protect the decommissioning, and also radioactive waste management funds. Under no circumstances must these funds remain under the control of the utilities.

Nuclear Stress Tests
All nuclear power plants in the EU underwent stress tests and peer reviews in 2011 and 2012. This identified a number of issues, where safety improvements were recommended. Read EU Page.

European Nuclear Energy Forum
Discussions about the directive is partly taking place in this Forum, The aim of the Forum is to organise a broad discussion on the opportunities and risks of nuclear energy. This forum should gather all relevant stakeholders, but NGOs have criticized it, see Friends of the Earth. It started in 2007,
Read more on the European Commission web site.

A Bit of History
The directive was approved in 2009, after 7 years of negotiations and debate.

In May 2008, the EU Commissioner for Energy called Member States to agree on common nuclear safety rules. Then negotiations on the nuclear safety directive restarted.

In September 2004 the EU Commission launched an amended proposal (COM2004/526); but the countries shortly afterwards decided to continue to work on their conclusion from June. This decision has postponed any new step for a long time.

In June 2004, the EU Environment Ministers decided to take a break in negotiations and instead"engage in a wide ranging consultation process facilitating the choice of instrument(s), in the framework of the Euratom Treaty, that can contribute more effectively to achieving nuclear safety and the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, without excluding any instrument".

2003, A new version of the directive and the proposal was discussed among the EU countries.and in the EU Parliament during the year

November 6, 2002, the EU Commission launched a “Nuclear package” including a proposal for a nuclear safety directive, COM2002(605)final.

« Return to EU Energy Policy