Defects in the EU's nuclear decommissioning programmes in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia include cost overruns, delays, lack of coordination and supervision, diffused responsibilities, too much money going to unrelated energy projects and ill-informed priority setting, say Budgetary Control Committee MEPs in a resolution voted on Monday.
MEPs complain that after more than ten years of EU funding, none of the three nuclear power plants has been irreversibly shut down. They fear that the member states concerned could try to use this fact as a political lever to obtain additional EU funding.
Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia should establish decommissioning plans, including detailed budgets, explaining how the closure of the nuclear power plants will be funded, says the text.
The report by Marian-Jean Marinescu (EPP, RO) stresses that final responsibility for closing nuclear power plants safely lies with the member states themselves and warns that failure to comply with this obligation "puts Union citizens at risk". EU funding to these countries for decommissioning should expire by the end of 2020.
The EU Court of Auditors has estimated the funding gap for decommissioning in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia at €2.5 billion. "Even if the Union assists with another €553 million until 2020, a funding gap of €2 billion remains", says the text.
MEPs underline that decommissioning will be "an increasingly important issue in the coming years given that one-third of the 143 reactors operating in 14 Member States are due to be shut down by 2025". They call on member states to set aside enough money to take the reactors out of operation.
The programmes - managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) - deal with decommissioning (e.g. waste treatment and fuel decontamination), energy (e.g. improving energy supply and upgrading infrastructure) and social consequences (e.g. safety and retraining of staff).
EU aid under the current long-run budget (2007-2013), is estimated at €2.85 billion, of which €1.367 billion is earmarked for Ignalina (Lithuania), €613 million for Bohunice (Slovakia) and €868 million for Kozloduy (Bulgaria). By the end of 2010, the Commission had committed a total of €1.807 billion or 63.5% of the amount available.