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Parliamentary questions
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17 April 2019
Answer given by Mr Arias Cañete on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-000914/2019

Nuclear safety is a key priority for the European Union both within the Union and beyond its external borders(1). One of the most important Union’s safety initiatives is the comprehensive risk and safety assessments (Stress Tests) of nuclear power plants(2).

Belarus decided to voluntarily(3) undertake the Stress Tests by preparing a National Report in line with EU methodology, send the report to the Commission and host a peer review. The report was endorsed by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) and presented to the public.

Overall, the Peer Review Report confirmed the adequacy of nuclear safety features as established by the Belarusian national regulator at the time of the construction license in 2014(4). It made a number of important recommendations requiring thorough follow up and continued implementation measures.

The Commission called on the Belarusian authorities to develop a National Action Plan to ensure timely implementation of all safety improvement measures in accordance with their safety significance(5). This Plan should also be subject to a future independent review(6), as was done by all EU and non-EU countries which voluntarily participated to the stress test process since Fukushima.

The Union has also been providing technical assistance to the Belarusian nuclear regulatory authority since 2011 through the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation(7). In addition, the Commission has invited Belarus to participate in the European Radiological Data Exchange Platform(8) and in the European Community Urgent Radiological Information Exchange(9).

(1)However, the decision to construct and operate nuclear power plants is a national one. In addition, the primary responsibility for nuclear safety remains with the licensee under the supervision of the national nuclear regulatory authority.
(2)This initiative was carried out in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.
(3)As a non-EU country, see https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/20110623_stress_test_joint_declaration_eu_neighbouring_countries.pdf
(5)Press release of 3 July 2018, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4347_en.htm
(6)Press release of 3 July 2018, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4347_en.htm. This was done for all EU Member States as well as the non-EU countries that, like Belarus, voluntarily participated in the Stress Tests.
(7)Council Regulation (Euratom) No 237/2014 of 13 December 2013 establishing an Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC). Under the INSC, EU expertise in the field of nuclear safety has been transferred to the nuclear regulatory body of Belarus that has increased its capacity, including for all stages of the licensing process of the new Ostrovets NPP.
(8)This platform makes radiological environmental monitoring data from most European countries available in near real-time.
(9)This system, also called ECURIE, is the interface to the EU early notification and information exchange system for radiological emergencies. It is the technical implementation of Council Decision 87/600/Euratom, which obliges Member States to urgently inform the Commission of any radiological emergency for which they intend to take countermeasures. In addition, ECURIE may be used to disseminate information regarding other events with radiological consequences on an urgent basis.

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