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Wednesday, 9 May 2007 - Brussels OJ edition

20. Assessing Euratom (debate)

  President. – The next item is the report (A6-0129/2007) by Eugenijus Maldeikis, on behalf of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, on Assessing Euratom – 50 years of European nuclear energy policy [2006/2230(INI)].

There is a symbolic significance in our debating this matter today, which is Europe Day.


  Eugenijus Maldeikis (UEN), rapporteur. – (LT) We are indeed commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome – Europe Day – very respectfully and solemnly today. I only regret that the fiftieth anniversary of one of the most important European treaties – EURATOM – is passing quite unnoticed, even though this treaty has made a significant contribution to the development of European energy resources.

The European Union became the leading force in the world in the nuclear industry field and one of the primary entities involved in nuclear research in the field of controlled thermonuclear fission and synthesis. According to data from the end of 2006, there were 152 nuclear reactors operating in the European Union, and the nuclear industry sector was producing 32% of our electrical energy. Nuclear energy is one of the most competitive forms of energy.

I would like to say a few words about the main achievements of the EURATOM Treaty. Firstly, I would like to say that the first scientific research programme to be created on the basis of the EURATOM Treaty developed further into a series of scientific research programmes and laid the foundations for the creation of the Joint Research Centre. On the basis of Section 3 of the EURATOM Treaty on 'Health and Safety Issues', legislation was drafted by the European Union to guarantee that basic worker and public safety requirements would be met and that environmental safety standards would begin to be applied. Another section responsible for significant achievement in the implementation of the EURATOM Treaty is Section 7, the 'Safety Control' section. This was one of the major achievements of the Treaty, allowing the Commission and the public to know about nuclear material reserves and their flow, with the European Union controlling this sensitive segment of the market. Much has been achieved in the field of external relations since EURATOM joined many international Conventions including the Nuclear Safety Convention. I would like to say that EURATOM is actively participating in joint projects within international scientific research programmes and with separate countries that are world leaders in the field.

It is also necessary to stress that, in this period, the EURATOM founder countries have sought to very strictly control and regulate atomic energy development in the European Union, and they have complemented the EURATOM Treaty with new legislation. In my view it is very important to mention that during discussions in the committee and during question time, likewise while meeting with various community sector representatives, many Members of Parliament agreed that it was necessary to fundamentally re-examine Parliament's role. The problem of the undemocratic nature of the EURATOM Treaty is becoming increasingly pressing, and I think that many Members of the European Parliament would agree with me. The European Parliament has to be drawn into wider general decision-making in relation to EURATOM legislation. We consider and, after much discussion, we suggest that it would be best to use Article 203 of the EURATOM Treaty to enable a thorough, constructive, step-by-step solution to concrete issues pertaining to the augmentation of Parliament's powers and Parliament's participation in the supervision of EURATOM activity.

I would like to say a few more things that are important. It is often said that the EURATOM Treaty should be done away with, as it is out of date and unable to fulfil its functions in contemporary energy issues. In fact, that would create dangerous judicial insecurity in all the territory of the European Union because this Treaty regulates a multitude of technical matters and its elimination would really create a threat and the danger of nationalisation of nuclear energy resources. Suggestions that some sections be done away with or that the whole structure be demolished have the same dangerous ring to them. In essence, that would weaken the supervision of the use of nuclear energy in the European Union. I would like to thank all the colleagues, who have actively participated in the discussions, and I invite them to support this report.


  Andris Piebalgs, Member of the Commission. Madam President, the Commission very much welcomes the report drawn up by Mr Maldeikis.

I believe that, after a very detailed analysis, this report offers a complete and very balanced assessment of the Euratom Treaty that takes into account its positive achievements but, at the same time, does not hide its imperfections. The report reaches conclusions that are in line with the ones expressed in the Commission Communication on 50 years of the Euratom Treaty, which we adopted on 20 March.

I am convinced that the Euratom Treaty has proved a useful instrument both for those Member States which use nuclear power to produce electricity and for those which do not.

The implementation of the provisions of the Euratom Treaty has allowed for a consistent European approach to the development and use of nuclear energy. That approach is most visible in the implementation of the research policy, the nuclear safeguards regime, the supply policy and international relations.

The Commission’s priority for the remainder of its mandate definitely remains the establishment of a common framework for nuclear safety. We are now working to establish a high-level group of Member States to tackle nuclear safety issues and waste issues, following the agreement reached by the European Council last March regarding the Commission’s proposal. I know we can count on the continued support of Parliament to ensure that we can implement practical measures for enhancing nuclear safety.

The directives on nuclear safety and nuclear waste treatment are still with the Council, and it is high time to move them forward.

Definitely the role of the European Parliament is not satisfactorily reflected in the Euratom Treaty. The Commission fully understands Parliament’s concern that it has no responsibility to decide on the use of codecision. That can be done only by an intergovernmental conference.

I should like to recall that the Commission made a proposal on the future of the Euratom Treaty within the context of the draft European Constitution. In this proposal the Commission suggested use of the codecision procedure. As you are aware, the proposal was not retained and Euratom remained a protocol annexed to the draft Constitutional Treaty.

At the same time, let me underline that the Commission will continue to ensure that the views expressed by the European Parliament are taken into account before the Council.

I should like also to address the last point mentioned by the rapporteur. The Euratom Treaty is important. It lays down provisions on the use by certain parties of nuclear energy and, even though it is imperfect, it assigns roles and it is therefore important to retain it in the future.


  Johannes Voggenhuber (Verts/ALE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. – (DE) Madam President, the rapporteur has expressed astonishment that the 50th anniversary of the Euratom Treaty is not being celebrated and that it has not been mentioned in the anniversary speeches. The Committee on Constitutional Affairs has considered the reasons for this in great detail.

Perhaps we need to be reminded that today the Euratom Treaty actually reads more like a futuristic ode, with expectations of technological salvation that no one shares any more; that half of the Member States are no longer interested in using nuclear energy or wish to stop doing so; that there are huge popular movements campaigning for nuclear energy to be abandoned; that the European consensus on nuclear energy – as declared in 1957 – no longer exists, because modern energy policy focuses on alternative forms of energy; and that the Euratom Treaty is undemocratic to an unacceptable degree. In the light of all of these considerations, the Convention proposed separating off the Euratom Treaty so that it would no longer form part of a European Union constitution.

This House – and I was astounded that the rapporteur and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy did not include this – has explicitly called for a revision conference to be convened with the aim of revising the whole of the Treaty. This House has expressly supported the idea of incorporating the Euratom Treaty into a chapter devoted to energy, and I simply cannot understand why the Committee on Industry, in opposition to the majority of this House, is clinging on to this futuristic ode and these ideological statements.


  Romana Jordan Cizelj, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. (SL) After the fifty years that have passed since the signing of the Euratom Treaty, it is now time, and indeed today is the ideal moment, to ask ourselves about the results of common European cooperation in the nuclear field. Has the Euratom Treaty fulfilled our expectations? Has it contributed to greater security in energy supply? Has it promoted research? Has the Treaty helped to spread knowledge and information about the use of nuclear energy?

I firmly believe that I can answer in the affirmative. Moreover, the Euratom Treaty has played an exceptionally important role in the area of ensuring adequate protection for people from radiation, protection of the environment in preventing the misuse of nuclear material and in promoting research and innovation.

The results of the Treaty are proof that through close and transparent cooperation, much can be achieved at the European level. An example of this is the Iter fusion reactor, currently the biggest scientific research project in the world, in which Europe is a leading force. This could not have been achieved by any individual Member State.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Euratom Treaty we must also look to the future and take into account the political and economic circumstances of today. For this reason we are drawing attention to what is termed the deficit of democracy, which derives from the limited powers of the European Parliament in the decision-making process.

I would also highlight the need to establish common European standards in the area of nuclear safety, which also includes guidelines for the dismantling of nuclear facilities and the appropriate handling of radioactive waste. I believe that we should also devote greater attention to coordinated and effective cooperation with the international atomic agency.

Let me sum up. So far the Euratom Treaty has performed its role well. What it needs is to be built upon, and certainly not the introduction of revolutionary changes or even cancellation. Finally, I would also like to thank rapporteur Maldeikis for his exceptionally good cooperation in preparing this report.


  Hannes Swoboda, on behalf of the PSE Group. – (DE) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I have been asked by Mrs Thomsen, our shadow rapporteur, to stand in for her, because she is unfortunately not able to be with us this evening. Of course in our group too – as in this House as a whole – opinions diverge on the importance of nuclear energy: for and against, strongly opposed, strongly in favour, more moderate positions. We are not going to change that.

On a few points, however, agreement reigns. Firstly, safety and security are the top priority, safety being the safety of the individual plants and security meaning measures to counter the propagation of nuclear materials. In Europe itself this may perhaps not be such a serious problem, but as a general rule we should set the best example. Since cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency has been mentioned, I should like to stress that we certainly need to adopt more of a multilateral approach here.

My second point is the information obligation. I am not entirely convinced that the requirement to provide information is working as well as it might. We are experiencing a number of problems here, including where several countries are acting in combination, precisely because the information requirement is not working well enough or quickly enough. The third point concerns Parliament’s right to codecision.

I should like to thank the Commissioner for his clear words. I would like the rapporteur – whose diligence and work I acknowledge – not to be too hasty to call this a doom scenario. We need a fundamental revision of the Treaty. Surely it goes without saying that the revision will only enter into force once it has been negotiated and until then the existing Treaty will apply. We therefore do not need to worry about possible lacunae or renationalisation.

We must, however, heed the mood of the times and simply do more where safety and security are concerned than is laid down in the existing Treaty. I hope that this House will make a clear statement on Parliament’s right to codecision tomorrow, because we believe that it is unacceptable to resolve such an important issue as for or against without Parliament, which represents the people of Europe, having a say in that decision. I hope that there will be a clear majority of Parliament in favour.


  Anne Laperrouze, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the report that is to be put to the vote tomorrow is a balanced one, one that has avoided the pitfalls that traditionally imperil debates on nuclear energy. In reviewing the present state of play, it sets out where nuclear energy fits into the range of options available and takes a neutral line on what future it has in Europe.

The Euratom Treaty is a means of putting the use of nuclear power in Europe into a legal framework without being the means whereby it is promoted. Taken as a virtual whole, its chapters are living and useful, and that is one reason why it must not be broken up; the other is that it constitutes a coherent framework for controlling the use of nuclear energy in the European Union and ensuring that it is to the benefit of all the Member States. It makes it possible for new Member States to take on board a solid acquis communautaire covering every aspect of nuclear energy – research, the sharing of knowledge, security, waste management, protection against radiation, joint projects, materials management, the Supply Agency, relations with external bodies - and, while it is for each Member State to decide for or against nuclear power, the Treaty comprises numerous useful provisions for the states that have not opted for it, including the protection of workers and the strict control of nuclear materials in the European Union.

As regards its future direction, the report calls for European legislation on nuclear safety and waste management, while also highlighting the democratic deficit of the Treaty and suggests ways in which this might be remedied. While acknowledging, then, the usefulness of a legal framework applicable to the use of nuclear power in Europe, it is open to certain adaptations, without prejudging the means, but I nevertheless want to say that there are those in my group who would like the report to mention that the intergovernmental conference is the preferred option when it comes to reducing the democratic deficit and, in particular, to giving this House the power of codecision on certain chapters.

I will conclude by saying that I endorse this report and would like to congratulate Mr Maldeikis on being such a good listener and on doing such a good piece of work.


  Rebecca Harms, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, quite frankly I am outraged at the assertion that this debate on the Euratom Treaty has been balanced. If we bear in mind that just six months after the Euratom Treaty had been signed there was a nuclear accident at Windscale, as a result of which huge quantities of food had to be destroyed because this fire had catastrophic consequences, then I find it incredible that today – 50 years later – anyone can claim that there is nothing wrong.

The Chernobyl accident would never have had to happen if the lessons had been learnt ten years previously from the meltdown at Three Mile Island in the USA.

Let us take a look at Europe: accidents have happened at Brunsbüttel in northern Germany, at Tihange in Belgium, at Civaux in France, at Kosloduj and Pacs – two Eastern European nuclear power stations – at Barsebeck and most recently at Forsmark. These are just individual examples of the hundreds or thousands of accidents that happen every year. In each of these individual cases, however, we were close to a major disaster on the scale of Chernobyl.

If anyone is claiming today – 50 years after the Euratom Treaty was signed – that there is nothing wrong, that we do not need to revise the Treaty, that we do not need transparency and that we do not need codecision for Parliament, then that is a scandal.

The call for a revision conference for the Euratom Treaty is supported by both the Convention and Parliament, and has been voiced repeatedly. Before Euratom funds are used for more so-called new reactors of Soviet design in Eastern Europe, we should urgently convene a conference on the Euratom Treaty.


  Vladimír Remek, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(CS) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I should first and foremost like to commend the rapporteur on a document that may have a greater significance for the EU’s future than we currently appreciate.

The energy situation in the EU is a key issue for the EU’s future. On an issue as sensitive as the use of nuclear energy, which divides the Member States, our Parliament and even my political group, it is difficult but very important to find a sensible path and a common voice in the interests of all the EU Member States.

The Euratom Treaty undoubtedly demonstrated the need for such a framework and our next steps, whatever they may be, must not under any circumstances undermine its current structure. I do not think that the Treaty was so undemocratic; every Member State is able to have a say in how we will proceed with regard to nuclear energy. I should like to express my support for the idea of a European nuclear forum as a platform for the practical exchange of views, because we should make it clear in the EU how beneficial nuclear energy could be in resolving complex energy and climate change issues.


  Jana Bobošíková (NI).(CS) Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome the fact that the report emphasises the positive influence of nuclear energy in reducing CO2 production. What is alarming, however, is the fact that the agreement on nuclear energy enshrined in the Rome Treaty 50 years ago has disappeared.

The discrepancy has gone so far that some Member States do not even uphold the clearly agreed rule that each country has the right to decide whether to use nuclear energy. On Friday Austrian opponents of the Czech nuclear plant at Temelín will block border crossings between the two countries. Once again they will question the safety of Temelín, even though the plant meets all of the standards laid down by the Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency. They will therefore once again be meddling in the Czech Republic’s nuclear policy in contravention to the Euratom Treaty, while at the same time causing a nuisance.

I should like to warn that the Austrian activists are breaking a European agreement, without any substantial grounds for doing so. I feel it is dangerous and counterproductive for nuclear energy to be the subject of political battles within the EU.


  Alejo Vidal-Quadras (PPE-DE). – (ES) Madam President, I am delighted that, in the year in which we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, we have not forgotten about the Euratom Treaty.

The European Union we know was originally founded upon the countries’ decision to reinforce energy cooperation. Back then, the Heads of State or Government already realised that economic and energy interdependence offered them the opportunity to lay the groundwork for conciliation and prosperity on our continent. Half a century later, nobody can deny that our assessment of the integration process should be a very positive one.

Nuclear energy – with it 145 reactors, 5 200 reactor-years of operation, and an excellent track record of production and safety – employs around 400 000 workers in the Union and produces 31% of our electricity. This energy source emits no greenhouse gases and avoids the emission of an average of 720 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, a quantity that is equivalent to Europe's entire motor vehicle fleet. I note that Mrs Harms is listening to me very carefully.

Without nuclear energy, the Union’s emissions from electricity generation would increase by 50%. I am offering these data for one very simple reason: because they illustrate perfectly that nuclear energy is the source within our energy mix that meets the three requirements of our energy policy: security of supply, competitiveness and combating climate change.

Those who advocate entirely dismantling our nuclear facilities for exclusively ideological reasons are simply leading us towards economic and environmental suicide.

Over the last 50 years, the Treaty has continued to provide a crucial framework for stability and prosperity in the Union.

I do not wish to end without congratulating Mr Maldeikis on his excellent report, which will of course have the support of the majority of our group, as Mrs Jordan Cizelj has said.


  Reino Paasilinna (PSE). – (FI) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power are universally well-known, but opinions on the subject differ all the same, and so it is among decision-making authorities at national level.

Euratom’s perhaps most important achievement is the expansion of cooperation. Back when the Treaty was signed people were working separately. There are different opinions on this issue in my group, as my colleague, Mr Swoboda, said, but we try to avoid highly ideological contentions in this connection. We highlight the importance of safety, research, health and safety at work and waste management, but we obviously need to employ the codecision procedure with regard to the Treaty, as the Commissioner just said, and a Euratom conference of this sort would also be appropriate.

The day before yesterday some of the members of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy here present and I visited a fusion power plant in Germany, and there researchers claimed that in approximately 14 to 15 years’ time they will be able to build a power station producing fusion energy, based on which they could build a viable fusion power plant on an industrial scale. I at least was astonished at the speed at which research is progressing these days, if the plan is realised in the way these researchers said it would be.

The final word on nuclear power has not been spoken yet. There will be further developments on it today and just next door.


  Paul Rübig (PPE-DE).(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, just recently the press reported the 100th accident at the Temelin nuclear power station. I wrote to Commissioner Piebalgs on the subject, asking him for information about how the experts assess the accidents at Temelin. In his reply – for which I should like to thank him – he told me that he would request information from the Czech regulatory authority about how it assesses these accidents.

This brings us exactly to the crucial point. In the future we must – and I should like to thank the Commission – think about safety, final storage and decommissioning, but also the safety of nuclear power stations, at European level and consider how we are going to agree uniform technical standards and state-of-the-art technical regulations. If safety standards are not respected then it must be possible, through court decisions, to have dangerous nuclear power plants shut down. To this end we need independent experts who are able to assess accidents objectively at European level. When such an accident occurs a power station must be immediately shut down.

We are living in an age of liberalisation where cutting costs is paramount. I hope that the costs of safety, protection, end storage or decommissioning are not being cut in a few nuclear power stations so that they are better able to withstand the competition.

It is also important for us to make renewed efforts to improve safety through research, education and training, so as to make protecting the health of the population the prime concern.

I should particularly like to thank the Commission and my fellow Members, who are advocating codecision for the European Parliament on this issue.


  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (PSE). – De la intrarea sa în vigoare la 1 ianuarie 1958, Tratatul Euratom nu s-a modificat substanţial. Uniunea Europeană a investit continuu în cercetarea privind energia nucleară iar Programele cadru 7 şi 6 totalizează 3,7 miliarde de euro pentru perioada 2002-2011. În prezent, energia nucleară asigură 32% din electricitatea europeană, iar cele 152 de reactoare europene reprezintă practic o treime din capacitatea de producţie mondială. În România, de exemplu, energia electrică nucleară reprezintă 9,3% din producţia de energie electrică naţională şi de aceea siguranţa acestui tip de energie ne interesează.

Se consideră că energia nucleară este cea mai puţin poluantă după energia eoliană şi centralele hidraulice de mică capacitate. De aceea, în contextul schimbărilor climatice, se estimează că utilizarea energiei nucleare va permite reducerea, până în 2010, cu 7% a emisiilor europene de gaze cu efect de seră. Cu toate acestea, Tratatul european nu poate da răspunsuri satisfăcătoare unor întrebări actuale cum ar fi gestionarea deşeurilor nucleare sau retragerea din activitate a instalaţiilor nucleare. De asemenea, având în vedere importanţa energiei nucleare pentru politica energetică a Uniunii Europene, pentru strategia europeană pentru o energie sigură, competitivă şi durabilă, pentru siguranţa aprovizionării energetice, afirmăm cu tărie că există un deficit de democraţie prin faptul că, pentru Euratom, Parlamentul European nu are putere de colegislator. Considerăm că un Tratat Euratom adus la zi ar permite fixarea unor standarde armonizate pentru siguranţa energiei nucleare, a deşeurilor nucleare şi a demontării instalaţiilor de energie.


  Ján Hudacký (PPE-DE). – (SK) To begin with, I would like to thank the rapporteur for a very good report. I do not think that it is necessary to repeat what has been said about the importance and benefits of the EURATOM Treaty for the development and safety of the nuclear energy sector over the 50 years that it has been in existence.

The fact that the nuclear energy sector accounts for nearly 32% of the electricity generated in 15 EU Member States, and does that to high safety standards, thus eliminating 320 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, only serves to highlight the viability of this technology, which enables prompt responses to changes and needs in the energy, as well as for health protection and the environment.

The Treaty provides a complete, consistent and still valid legal framework for the safe use of nuclear energy by all Member States; therefore, I do not believe it is necessary to come up with a major revision of the Treaty. Of course, this should not prevent us from enacting new legislation aimed at enhancing still further the safety of nuclear facilities, nuclear waste management and the decommissioning of nuclear reactors, as well as research and development.

In this context I would like to refer to Article 203 of the Treaty and to mention the initiative proposed by the European Commission and a number of Member States regarding what has become known as the Nuclear Forum. The establishment of such a forum could have many benefits in terms of objectively reviewing nuclear facilities, their safety, their development and the cooperation of affected bodies. The forum could constitute an excellent platform for exchanging information and best practices, involving all relevant groups, including citizens.

It is no secret that several Central European countries are harbouring the ambition to host such a forum in whatever structure or shape it takes. Slovakia has nuclear facilities undergoing different stages of their life cycle, with one decommissioned unit, two units in the process of being decommissioned, another two units being built and several functioning units, and the country therefore has a vast body of experience as well as a large and justified ambition to be in the forefront of this initiative.


  Atanas Paparizov (PSE). – Madam President, this discussion will inevitably be influenced by attitudes to nuclear power generation. However, I would in this context like to stress my great satisfaction at the document that has emerged from the ITRE Committee, and of course at the work of the rapporteur, which provided the basis for this balanced document.

I would of course like to support the use of codecision, and am sure that this can be achieved through Article 203 of the Agreement. I would particularly like to draw attention to the part of the report which underlines the need to create Community rules on safety in the context of the present requirement for an environmentally friendly scenario for energy development in the European Union, with the aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and achieving greater Community independence. I am very satisfied with what Commissioner Piebalgs said in this connection and genuinely hope that the proposals the Commission has made to the Council since 2002 can be reintroduced and seriously discussed, because that is essential in the context of the decisions of 8 and 9 March.


  Teresa Riera Madurell (PSE). – (ES) Madam President, we must not demonise nuclear fission energy, but neither must we extol it as if it were the answer to all our problems. It has its advantages and its problems. The main problem is the treatment of waste, although nobody denies that, by promoting the areas of research under way, a viable technological solution to this issue could be found in the future, just as in the field of fossil fuels progress is being made on obtaining clean forms of combustion and also on CO2 capture technologies.

Today, however, we are evaluating the Euratom Treaty, 50 years on, and its future viability. In this regard, I would like to point out that I am one of those who, as a whole, take a positive view of the Euratom Treaty’s 50 years in force. But I also believe that the time has come to review it, to correct some aspects of it, such as the decision-making procedures, in order to make them more viable and democratic.

Unanimity in the Council is not viable in a Europe of 27 Member States and, furthermore, I agree with those who have said that the Treaty needs to be opened up to the codecision procedure in order to correct its democratic deficit.


  Andris Piebalgs, Member of the Commission. Madam President, the issue of nuclear energy is perhaps one of the most divisive issues between the citizens of Europe and the Member States, and today’s debate has also broadly touched upon that.

However, if we look at the Euratom Treaty objectively, which the report does, then we will see that it provided for many important things. Firstly, everybody believed 50 years ago that nuclear energy provided such cheap energy that there would be no need even to measure it. The Euratom Treaty provided the framework and support for research that definitely developed safeguards, safety and the treatment of nuclear waste. The Euratom Treaty also gave grounds for non-proliferation. Nowhere in the world is the system of safeguards as strong as in the European Union, and that is because of the Euratom Treaty.

If we look to the future, we know that nuclear power stations will be built, including in the European Union. The issues we have had with Temelín will not be unique, and we really need to work towards greater consensus on what we would like to achieve with nuclear energy in the European Union. In this connection, the Honourable Member Mr Hudacký mentioned the Nuclear Forum. That is an important element in trying to build consensus in this very important area, particularly in terms of global challenges.

I meet a lot of representatives not only of Member States but also of third countries who are very keen to start using nuclear energy, at the same time not only using their energy for the final stage but also having the whole cycles. I believe if the European Union does not take a strong position on addressing all the issues related to the nuclear cycle, the world will be a much more dangerous place. Therefore, I think the report really provides good grounds for reflecting and answering the challenges that lie ahead of us.

I thank the rapporteur for a very balanced approach and the many suggestions on how we should move forward – but it will not be easy.


  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow, Thursday.

Written statement (Rule 142)


  András Gyürk (PPE-DE) , in writing.(HU) There are few branches of the economy about which popular opinion is as divided as it is about the nuclear energy sector. Nuclear power plants have been regarded as both the flagships of technological development and as prime examples of taking safety risks with human life. One more reason why it is important to commit ourselves to assessment policies that dispassionately weigh the pros and cons of various methods of energy production. Now, at a time when debates on the need to take action against global climate change are intensifying, the extraordinarily low carbon dioxide emissions of nuclear power generation rarely plays a central role in the arguments.

It is my conviction that with the growth of a unified and free European energy market, with the internalisation of the hitherto external costs of energy production and the dismantling of obstacles to the effective operation of the market, it will also be possible to consider rational investment decisions with regard to nuclear energy production. As regards risks concerning the environment and human health, it is inevitable that we will find solutions for a safe method of long-term storage and treatment of waste from large-scale nuclear activity, and for the currently unresolved problems of the safe operation of nuclear power plants. For this reason, we must take steps to make sure that research and development for the safe use of nuclear energy receives as much attention and support as possible.


  Alessandro Battilocchio (NI), in writing.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the 50th anniversary of the Euratom Treaty has come at the right time. Fundamentally created as it was to deal with energy issues, the EU has since overlooked this important policy over the course of the decades in favour of focusing its attention on other, albeit just as important, subjects.

The period of reflection on the future of the Union therefore coincides with a thorough appreciation of the importance of a common and ambitious energy policy. The two aspects are closely linked: the EU that we want – an economic power, a safe home for our citizens, a queen on the international stage, and an institution free from external pressures – will not in fact be possible without a strategy that guarantees us a secure and sustainable internal energy supply. Europe needs to learn to stand on its own two feet.

The revision of Euratom is an important step in this direction, insofar as it will offer the necessary legal framework to a sector that is already fully proven and productive, in the light of the new technologies and successes obtained in the areas of security and efficiency. It is important, however, not to close the door to other components of the energy mix, such as clean coal and other renewables which, although not yet able to replace all of the sources in use today, may prove to be the winning alternative in the future.

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