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Thursday, 10 May 2007 - Brussels
Assessing Euratom

European Parliament resolution of 10 May 2007 on Assessing Euratom – 50 Years of European nuclear energy policy (2006/2230(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, signed in Rome on 25 March 1957 (the Euratom Treaty),

–   having regard to the Euratom Treaty's preamble, referring to its original purpose of establishing a European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) "creating the conditions necessary for the development of a powerful nuclear industry which will provide extensive energy resources, lead to the modernisation of technical processes and contribute, through its many other applications, to the prosperity of [the] peoples",

–   having regard to the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities and in particular its ruling of 14 November 1978(1), its judgment of 22 April 1999(2) and its judgment of 10 December 2002(3),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 10 January 2007 entitled "An Energy Policy for Europe" (COM(2007)0001),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled "Nuclear Illustrative Programme – presented under Article 40 of the Euratom Treaty for the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee" (COM(2006)0844),

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 December 2006 on a European strategy for sustainable, competitive and secure energy - Green paper(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 March 2006 on security of energy supply in the European Union(5),

–   having regard to its position of 14 December 2006 on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing an Instrument for Nuclear Safety and Security Assistance(6),

–   having regard to Directive 2006/117/Euratom of the Council of 20 November 2006 on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel(7),

–   having regard to Decision 2006/970/Euratom of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for nuclear research and training activities (2007 to 2011)(8),

–   having regard to Regulation (Euratom) No 1908/2006 of the Council of 19 December 2006 laying down the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in actions under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community and for the dissemination of research results (2007-2011)(9),

–   having regard to Decision 2006/976/Euratom of the Council of 19 December 2006 concerning the Specific Programme implementing the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for nuclear research and training activities (2007 to 2011)(10),

–   having regard to Decision 2006/977/Euratom of the Council of 19 December 2006 concerning the Specific Programme to be carried out by means of direct actions by the Joint Research Centre implementing the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for nuclear research and training activities (2007 to 2011)(11),

–   having regard to its position of 16 November 2005 on the proposal for a Council regulation on the implementation of Protocol No 9 on the Bohunice V1 nuclear power plant in Slovakia, as annexed to the Act concerning the conditions of accession to the European Union of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia(12),

–   having regard to its resolution of 16 November 2005 on the use of financial resources earmarked for the decommissioning of nuclear power plants(13),

–   having regard to the deliberations of the public hearing on the subject, held by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy on 1 February 2007,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A6-0129/2007),

A.   whereas, although the treaties have repeatedly undergone thorough revision in the light of new needs and challenges, the Euratom Treaty has been amended only once in its 50-year history(14) and, in that time, its core provisions and substance have remained unchanged,

B.   whereas, although the Euratom Treaty has been modified only slightly in the last 50 years, it has given rise to a substantial volume of secondary legislation over the same period and has been the subject of a considerable number of judgments handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Communities, which have, for example, substantially broadened the original scope of the Euratom Treaty,

C.   whereas the Euratom Treaty introduced stringent safety standards for the handling of radioactive fuel elements and waste in the European Union, lays down uniform safety standards for protecting the health of workers and of the public as well as procedures for the implementation of those standards, and opposes any proliferation of nuclear material for military purposes,

D.   whereas the Euratom Treaty offers a comprehensive and coherent legal framework for the use of nuclear energy in Europe under safe conditions for the benefit of all the Member States,

E.   whereas several Member States have never developed the nuclear option, others have an active phase-out policy and others continue to support their nuclear sector,

F.   whereas, in its draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (the Constitutional Treaty), the Convention proposed that the Euratom Treaty should be separated from the legal structure of the future Constitution; whereas the Convention, in its work on the future of the European Union and the signing of the Constitutional Treaty, has maintained the provisions of the Euratom Treaty in their present state in the form of an annexed protocol,

G.   whereas Germany, Ireland, Austria, Hungary and Sweden have annexed to the Constitutional Treaty a declaration noting that the core provisions of the Euratom Treaty need to be brought up to date and calling for a revision conference to be convened "as soon as possible",

H.   whereas the recent round of enlargement has increased the diversity of the European Union's landscape in the area of nuclear energy and the need for Community action in the nuclear domain,

I.   whereas the 50th anniversary of the Euratom Treaty provides Parliament with an opportunity of considering its content and relevance and expressing its concern that the main provisions of the Euratom Treaty have not been amended since it entered into force 50 years ago,

J.   whereas these reflections on the permanence of the Euratom Treaty are indissociable from the aims that the Commission is pursuing in favour of a European policy for a safer, more sustainable and more competitive form of energy, contributing to the fight against climate change, as set out recently in the abovementioned Commission Communication of 10 January 2007,

50 years with the Euratom Treaty

1.  Points out that, since 1957 and the signing of the Euratom Treaty, the European Union has become the world leader in the nuclear industry and one of the main actors in nuclear research in the fields of controlled thermonuclear fission and fusion; notes that the European industry is present throughout the nuclear fuel cycle and has developed local technologies, some of which, such as enrichment through ultracentrifugation, are the fruit of partnerships at European level;

2.  Notes that the European Union's nuclear industry's almost total command of the fuel cycle offers the Union, at this time of debate on energy dependence, guarantees of industrial and technological independence, particularly as regards fuel enrichment;

3.  Points out that, thanks in particular to the Euratom Treaty, nuclear energy was in late 2006 producing, from 152 reactors spread across 15 Member States, 32 % of Europe's electricity, that is, the largest share of non-carbon electricity in the European Union and one of its most competitive sources, such as to contribute to the aims of an energy policy for Europe, as set out in the above Commission Communication of 10 January 2007;

4.  Points out, as regards combating climate change, that the Commission, in its Green Paper "Towards a European strategy for the security of energy supply" (COM(2000)0769) estimated that nuclear energy would save more than 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2010, "the equivalent of the CO2 emissions produced by some 100 million cars"; recalls that, in Annex I of its Communication of 10 January 2007, the Commission considered nuclear to be the least carbon-producing source of energy after offshore wind and small-scale hydropower;

5.  Notes that the founder countries of Euratom laid down a series of provisions in ten chapters with the aim of strictly containing the development of nuclear energy within the Community, and that those provisions are still applicable and are continually enriched as legislation is adopted on the basis of the Euratom Treaty and make an important contribution to the safe operation of nuclear facilities in Europe;

6.  Notes that the 1957 consensus on nuclear energy no longer exists among the Member States;

7.  Notes that expectations with regard to nuclear energy, to which the Euratom Treaty gave expression five decades ago, have changed; notes that those expectations now relate more to the need to have, in the form of the Euratom Treaty, a sound legal framework to govern the supervision of the use of nuclear energy in the European Union and to provide a framework for the integration into the European Union of countries which use nuclear power, through the transposition of the Euratom acquis communautaire; acknowledges that significant chapters in Title II of the Euratom Treaty have made it possible to protect the public, workers and the environment against ionising radiation (Chapter III), to develop research in the areas of waste management and plant safety (Chapter I) and to implement safeguards in respect of fissile materials in Europe (Chapter VII);

8.  Points out that initial research activities were first developed under the Euratom Treaty's framework (Chapter I), and that this also led to the creation of the Joint Research Centre, the first EU research establishment; urges the inclusion of a nuclear research and development programme in the general research framework programme budget, subject to the same scrutiny and duty of public accountability as all other research programmes;

9.  Considers that the legislation developed under Chapter III of the Euratom Treaty (on health protection) must remain under the responsibility of the European Union in order to ensure that basic standards for the protection of workers and the general public are applied and extended to include the environment, and that it takes account in an evolutionary way of the results of international scientific studies;

10.  Points out that the scope of such legislation is not confined to the regions where nuclear plants operate but now also includes the protection of neighbouring Member States and countries outside the European Union, as a result of the constant checks on discharges of radioactive waste and the adoption of rules on the transfer of spent fuels and radioactive waste, on protection of the food chain, and on radiological emergencies;

11.  Notes that Chapter IV of the Euratom Treaty (on investment) was designed to obtain detailed information, at Community level, on the Member States" investment plans;

12.  Notes, however, that when publishing its Illustrative Nuclear Programmes (PINCs) the Commission did not really assess nuclear investment needs with particular regard to the problems of security of energy supply, the fight against climate change and the European Union's competitiveness in the light of the worldwide revival of the nuclear industry;

13.  Welcomes, however, the existence in the Euratom Treaty of the requirement to provide details of any new investment in Europe in the nuclear domain, thus making it possible to have a complete cartography of the European Union's nuclear activities – a requirement specific to the European nuclear industry;

14.  Considers that joint undertakings (Chapter V of the Euratom Treaty) will have been valuable instruments for implementing public policies, particularly in the research field, where this legal instrument has been used on a number of occasions, particularly with the establishment of the Joint European Torus at Culham in 1978 and, more recently, the introduction of the European Legal Entity to implement the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER);

15.  Considers that the Euratom Treaty has at its disposal, with the creation of an Agency (Chapter VI) responsible for supplying users within the Union in accordance with the principle of equal access to materials, an instrument that is essential in these times of preoccupation with the security of the energy supply;

16.  Considers that safeguards (Chapter VII) are one of the major successes of the Euratom Treaty's application and provide the Commission with the means of ascertaining the stocks and movements of nuclear materials in the European Union;

17.  Notes that these safeguards also provide a real guarantee for countries that supply nuclear materials as to the use of those materials, complementing the non-proliferation controls of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA);

18.  Notes that, on the basis of Chapter X of the Euratom Treaty (on external relations), the Euratom's accession to a number of international conventions, in particular the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, has enabled the Community to participate in international effort on these issues and to promote the important advances achieved in the European Union;

19.  Recalls also that it is on the basis of Chapter X of the Euratom Treaty that the Euratom has concluded a number of cooperation agreements in the field of research, participated in international projects such as the Generation IV International Forum on future nuclear reactors, and conducted the international negotiations on the ITER Project;

Institutional debate

20.  Notes that the main provisions of the Euratom Treaty have not been amended since it entered into force on 1 January 1958;

21.  Confirms that in accordance with the subsidiarity principle, it is for each and every Member State to decide whether or not to rely on nuclear energy;

22.  Notes, furthermore, that some Member States which are plainly opposed to nuclear energy and have joined the Communities (the European Community and Euratom) have never in any way been required to develop nuclear energy on their territory; notes, accordingly, that it has been accepted for many years that the Euratom Treaty, in promoting nuclear energy, imposes no obligation, but establishes a legal framework for all to use;

23.  Emphasises that the Euratom Treaty does not hinder the development of an internal electricity market and is even less of an obstacle to the free movement of goods, persons and capital; points out, in that connection, that the ordinary law laid down by the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty) applies also to nuclear activities and notes, by way of example, that the movement of nuclear materials, equipment and technologies within and outside the European Union is covered by rules on the supervision of dual-use goods, adopted on the basis of the commercial policy laid down in the EC Treaty; adds that Euratom legislation is subject to competition law and regulations on State aid, as specified in Title VI of the EC Treaty; concludes, therefore, that the Euratom Treaty in no way represents a protectionist framework for nuclear energy;

24.  Notes that the Euratom Treaty offers countries that have chosen the nuclear option the instruments for its development (joint undertakings, support for research and development, and Euratom loans) but accompanies the provision of these instruments with a dense legal framework (on health protection, nuclear safeguards and supply), in order to reassure Member States that have not chosen that option;

25.  Recalls that the Euratom legal framework also applies, for the good of the Community, to Member States that generate no nuclear power but have nuclear research reactors on their territory, and offers such Member States instruments (such as the Euratom research and development framework programmes) enabling them to receive funding, for instance in the field of medical research;

26.  Considers that, irrespective of the diversity of views on nuclear energy, the provisions of the Euratom Treaty that have helped prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials, and those which address health, safety and the prevention of radiological contamination, have been highly beneficial and should be carefully co-ordinated with the health and safety provisions of the EC Treaty;


27.  Regrets that the growth in Parliament's powers, and particularly their extension to include the codecision procedure for the adoption of the majority of European legislation, has not been taken into account in the Euratom Treaty; considers that, despite the Euratom Treaty's technical nature, Parliament is entitled to be formally involved in texts whose legal basis is the Euratom Treaty;

28.  Sees as evidence of an unacceptable democratic deficit the fact that Parliament is almost completely excluded from the Euratom legislative process and that it is consulted, and no more, on only one of the ten chapters of the Euratom Treaty;

29.  Notes, however, that the Parliament is associated, by means of an Interinstitutional Agreement, with the negotiations on the seventh framework programme of the Euratom for nuclear research and training activities (2007 to 2011) (Euratom 7FP); also notes, in the light of the documents most recently considered in the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (Euratom 7FP, the directive on crossborder shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel, the Instrument for Nuclear Assistance, etc.) that, although the procedure provides for Parliament only to be consulted, the amendments proposed by Parliament to Euratom texts are regularly taken into account, in whole or in part, by the Council; does not consider, however, that this can be regarded as sufficient;

30.  Highlights the significance of Article 203 of the Euratom Treaty, in that it offers flexibility – as with the creation of the Instrument for Nuclear Cooperation – to undertake legislative initiatives not initially provided for in the Euratom Treaty; considers that there is a need to examine how Article 203 could be used to develop new initiatives and, possibly, to make adjustments to the Euratom Treaty;

31.  Regrets the absence of a legislative corpus on harmonised standards for nuclear safety, the management of radioactive waste and the decommissioning of nuclear plants with real added value, particularly in comparison with the existing international framework;

32.  Calls on the Commission to draw on the experience gained from implementing the conventions governed by the IAEA (Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management) and to take account of the assessments, conducted by the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), of the most advanced national practices in the field of radioactive waste management; notes that concerted initiatives, such as those carried out by the Western Europe Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA), to develop a joint approach to nuclear safety, are likely to help with drawing up a basis for legislation;

33.  Notes that, as confirmed by the abovementioned judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-29/99 Commission v Council, the Commission has powers in the field of nuclear safety under the Euratom Treaty and that it is authorised to put forward proposals in this area;

Guidelines for the future

34.  Considers that, despite its imperfections, the Euratom Treaty remains for the moment an indispensable legal framework, not only for Member States who wish to develop their nuclear industry but also for Member States who merely wish to benefit from a protective legal arsenal for themselves, their populations and their environment;

35.  Reiterates its call for an intergovernmental conference to be convened to carry out a comprehensive revision of the Euratom Treaty, to repeal the outdated provisions of that Treaty, to maintain the regulatory regime of the nuclear industry at EU level, to revise the remaining provisions in the light of a modern and sustainable energy policy and to incorporate the relevant ones in a separate energy chapter;

36.  Points out that the provisions of the Euratom Treaty are at the heart of the debate on industrial issues, in connection with the Lisbon Strategy, and energy issues (particularly from the supply angle), at a time when the European Union is seeking to define a European energy mix that is low-carbon, competitive and as far as possible "home-grown";

37.  Reiterates, in this connection, that nuclear energy currently provides the European Union with 32% of its electricity, and that the Commission considered it in its Communication of 10 January 2007 to be one of the main CO2-free sources of energy in Europe, and the third-cheapest in Europe, without internalisation of CO2 costs; considers, therefore, that the European Union, in line with the Euratom Treaty, should defend its industrial and technical leadership in the light of the vigorous revival by other actors of their nuclear activities (Russia, USA) and the emergence of new world actors on the nuclear stage (China and India) which will be the European Union's competitors in the medium term;

38.  Considers that the absence of the legal framework provided by the Euratom Treaty would lead to the renationalisation of nuclear policy in Europe, which would be a setback for the acquis communautaire, and would give rise to a risk of legal uncertainty for all the 27 Member States;

39.  Calls for the principles of fair competition and a level playing field for different energy sources to be respected;

40.  Considers also that deleting one or more chapters from the Euratom Treaty or merging certain provisions into the EC Treaty would unbalance the Euratom Treaty as a whole by weakening the supervision of nuclear energy use in Europe; adds that the absence of a coherent legal framework would make it far more complicated for future Member States to take on the Euratom acquis;

41.  Considers that supervision of nuclear energy use in Europe, in view of the very specific characteristics of this energy source, requires the maintenance of a dedicated legal framework such as the Euratom Treaty, which for 50 years has demonstrated the usefulness of all its provisions; adds that its partial incorporation into a hypothetical chapter on "Energy" in the EC Treaty would weaken the overall legal supervision of nuclear energy in Europe and remove the specific nuclear control procedures contained today in the Euratom Treaty;

42.  Considers, nevertheless, that the Euratom Treaty needs to be somewhat reformed;

43.  Considers that, irrespective of the possibility of making short-term adjustments, a comprehensive revision of the Euratom Treaty is necessary in order to make good the democratic deficit and to put common safety and security issues at the centre of the nuclear activities of the Union and its Member States;

44.  Calls for revision of the decision-making procedures in the Euratom Treaty, which would enable Parliament to be closely involved in legislative procedures in the nuclear field and would allow it to achieve greater transparency and to fully involve Union citizens; therefore asks the Council and the Commission to address the democratic deficit inherent in the Euratom Treaty and extend the co-decision procedure to legislation adopted under it;

45.  Considers that these changes could be made by means of Article 203 of the Euratom Treaty, without necessarily disrupting the Treaty's general structure and content; calls on the Council to consider this possibility;

46.  Points out that, in the context of a need to adapt European energy policy and extend the working lives of power stations, there is an urgent need to draw up robust legislation and adopt concrete measures at Community level in the fields of nuclear safety, the management of radioactive waste and the decommissioning of nuclear plants and to take steps to ensure that research and development promoting the safe use of nuclear energy receives as much attention and support as possible; invites the Commission to review the relevant drafts of its legislative proposal and submit new proposals for directives on the safety of nuclear facilities, on waste management, and on closure and decommissioning of nuclear facilities taking into account the "polluter-pays" principle;

47.  Urges the Commission and Council to look into this question with all due speed and to work on it in close consultation with Parliament;

48.  Calls for the development of teaching and training programmes at European level in the nuclear field and for measures to secure the funding of ambitious research programmes, so as to respond to the challenges in the areas of fission (safety, waste management, future reactors) and radiological protection and provide the necessary maintenance of the appropriate powers and human resources in order to keep the nuclear option open on the basis of a sustainable and competitive European industry;

49.  Calls for a European coordination mechanism of best national practices to protect workers and the public from radiation so as to complement the harmonisation already achieved in this sector by the Euratom Treaty;

50.  Strongly encourages the Commission to draw up at regular intervals, as the Euratom Treaty provides, really forward-looking PINCs for nuclear production and investment targets, in the global context of increasing competition in this sector, which would also take into consideration the aims of reducing greenhouse gas emissions; notes in this connection that the use of all other energy sources is also a matter for national competence but that targets (sometimes even binding targets) are nevertheless set at Community level, as is the case with renewables;

51.  Invites the Council, bearing in mind the objective of security of supply and targets to reduce CO2 emissions, to define a coordinated policy that would encourage investment, in full compliance with safety requirements, aimed at extending the life of and improving the performance of existing reactors, as well as investment in new capacities;

52.  Notes the Council initiative to envisage the setting up a High-Level European Group for nuclear safety, security and waste management;

53.  Welcomes the initiative to set up a European Nuclear Forum to facilitate a high-level debate involving politicians, industry and civil society;

54.  Calls for the role of the Euratom Supply Agency to be revived and for the powers conferred upon it by the Euratom Treaty to be used in full; considers that that role should be regarded less from the point of view of a uranium shortage but rather from the point of view of competitiveness and security of supplies, including the supply of fabricated nuclear fuel; considers that the provisions of the Euratom Treaty give it the means of becoming a proper energy observatory in the nuclear field, and to that end encourages the current thinking on improving the status of the Euratom Supply Agency;

55.  Calls for the continuance of intense international cooperation, for which the Euratom Treaty has prepared the ground, and calls for continued strengthening of cooperation with the IAEA, to avoid any redundancy in the respective actions of that agency and of the Euratom, and to secure the highest possible level of protection in the fields of radiological protection, nuclear safety and nuclear non-proliferation;

56.  Calls for international collaboration on research and development, such as on the ITER project or in the Generation IV International Forum, to be continued at a high level;

o   o

57.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) Ruling in Case 1/78, ECR 1978, p. 2151.
(2) Case C-161/97 P Kernkraftwerke Lippe-Ems Gmbh v Commission of the European Communities [1999] ECR I-2057.
(3) Case C-29/99 Commission of the European Communities v Council of the European Union [2002] ECR I-11221.
(4) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0603.
(5) OJ C 292 E, 1.12.2006, p. 112.
(6) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0599.
(7) OJ L 337, 5.12.2006, p. 21.
(8) OJ L 400, 30.12.2006, p. 60. Corrected by OJ L 54, 22.2.2007, p. 21.
(9) OJ L 400, 30.12.2006, p. 1. Corrected by OJ L 54, 22.2.2007, p. 4.
(10) OJ L 400, 30.12.2006, p. 404. Corrected by OJ L 54, 22.2.2007, p. 139.
(11) OJ L 400, 30.12.2006, p. 434. Corrected by OJ L 54, 22.2.2007, p. 149.
(12) OJ C 280 E, 18.11.2006, p.108.
(13) OJ C 280 E, 18.11.2006, p.117.
(14) By means of the Treaty on European Union signed in Maastricht on 7 February 1992.

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