The EURATOM Treaty was signed in 1957 and is one of the founding Treaties of the current European Union. There were six original Member States in the European club, however, since then the number of countries and the responsibility of the EU over areas of national and pan-national governance has increased. As a consequence the Laeken Summit in December 2001 called for the creation of a new structure for the EU, in particular to take onboard the entrance of ten new countries into the EU in 2004. As a result a European Convention was established to draft a new Constitution for Europe whose purpose is to: -
· Clarify where the competence of the EU lies whether at Community, national or sub-national level.
· Reform the EU institutions,
· Simplification of Treaties, to integrate them into a single text
· Democratisation of the EU structures.
Although the Laeken declaration does not mention the EURATOM Treaty by name it calls for action on the four treaties of the EU, which are:
· The Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which was signed on 18 April 1951 in Paris, entered into force on 23 July 1952 and expired on 23 July 2002;
· The Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC);
· The Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), which was signed (along with the EEC Treaty) in Rome on 25 March 1957, and entered into force on 1 January 1958.
· The Treaty on European Union, which was signed in Maastricht on 7 February 1992, entered into force on 1 November 1993. 'The Maastricht Treaty changed the name of the European Economic Community to simply "the European Community".
As noted above EURATOM is one of the founding Treaties of the EU but has not been subject to changes in the same way that the other Treaties have. It must be re-emphasised that the Treaty was signed in 1957 at a period of unquestioning optimism as to the role that nuclear power would or could play in the future development of the world. This was the era when Admiral Lewis L. Strauss, then Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, made his famous speech in which he said that it could be imagined that as a result of nuclear power electricity would be 'too cheap to meter'. In many ways the EURATOM Treaty reflects this view as its preamble states that 'Recognising that nuclear energy represents an essential resource for the development and invigoration of industry'. As a consequence the Treaty sets about to 'create the conditions necessary for the development of a powerful nuclear industry'.
The Convention and the Review of the EURATOM Treaty
There have been a number of submissions to the Convention that call for
changes in the EURATOM Treaty. The full list of submissions by Convention
members is listed in the annex. However, the three major proposals on
EURATOM reform are:
The first "preliminary draft" -known as the Penelope Paper - prepared by a specific task force in the Commission, headed by Francois Lamoureux, Director General of DG TREN envisages the creation of an addition act on the Peaceful Use of Atomic Energy to replace the EURATOM TREATY, which include:
a) The EURATOM Treaty would be substantially slimmed down by removing
a series of provisions which:
b) The provisions retained are those on the setting of standards (Chapter III on health and safety) with small adjustments to incorporate nuclear safety, Chapter IV on investments (with more explicit authorisation power), Chapter V on joint undertakings and Chapter VII on safeguards. These chapters have hardly been changed.
c) Parliament is restored to the institutional system, as it is given the power to adopt, with the Council, "Laws" for basic standards whereas at present it is very much outside the decision-making process.
d) The Penelope proposal inserts language on compatibility of investments with the single market as Article 11 states:
The Commission shall discuss with the persons or undertakings all aspects of investment projects, which relate to the objectives of the Union, including their impact on the proper functioning of the internal market. It shall evaluate, within this framework, the methods of financing the planned investments and shall decide on their authorisation of the investment project.
This is important as it highlights the deficiencies of the current EURATOM Treaty and its compatibility with the EU's electricity market.
To review text of civil nuclear act access here
This approach does not think it "appropriate" to become involved in an operation "to amend the EURATOM Treaty substantially". This is the guiding principle for the whole suggestion. There is no mentioning or willingness to rethink the sense, timeliness or the need for a reflection in view of the liberalisation of the energy market.
The Praesidium favours the amendment of the EURATOM Treaty, allowing it to continue to exist independently. The adjustments should be done by means of a Protocol annexed to the Constitutional Treaty. The suggestion is to introduce a so-called general clause into the EURATOM Treaty as new Article 107, with the consequence that apart from specific exemptions, all articles under Title III of the EURATOM Treaty (provisions governing the institutions) and Title IV (Financial Provisions) would be replaced by "the institutional and financial provisions of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe."
According to this suggestion, the amended EURATOM Treaty "would not change its nature, as it would continue to be primary legislation". And "the fact, that it is still a separate Treaty would not preclude a merging of the legal personalities of the EURATOM Community and of the European Union". Therefore the suggestion wants to "repeal Art. 184 of the EURATOM Treaty", and in consequence the EURATOM community would have no more legal personality.
To access Praesidium proposal click here
The proposal [Contribution by Ms Marie Nagy, Ms Renée Wagner and Mr Neil MacCormick, alternate members of the Convention: "The Future of the EURATOM Treaty in the Framework of the European Constitution. Ms Marie Nagy, Ms Renée Wagner and Mr Neil MacCormick, alternate members of the Convention, February 23rd 2003, CONV 563/03] calls for the abolishment of the 'special economic zone' that the EURATOM created and ?to respect the principles of fair competition and the creation of a level playing field for different energy sources, thereby ceasing to give nuclear energy undue advantages over its rivals. This proposal would have the effect of abolishing the EURATOM Treaty.
The proposal assesses the EURATOM Treaty chapter by chapter and concludes that there are only two areas in which special attention needs to be retained for nuclear technology. Firstly in the area of security of nuclear material and non-proliferation where it is proposed that a special Article be inserted into the new EC Treaty to enable community competence to continue in this area. The paper, however, does draw attention to the High Level Expert Group report for the European Commission, on the Euratom Safeguards Office (ESO), which recommended that the ESO should refocus its effort on its core activities, namely nuclear material accounting and controls. Furthermore, the report highlighted a number of areas in which the functioning of the ESO could be improved including greater transparency, greater integration into other parts of the Commission services and a thorough review of its mode of operation.
The second area that EU competence needs to be retained is that relating to environmental protection and nuclear safety. The proposal suggests that this be inserted into the new EC Treaty along with legislation associated with the handling of other dangerous materials. However, it should be noted that the Commission has proposed to extend its powers in this area within the Nuclear Package, currently being reviewed by the European Council. This will give the Commission new powers in the setting of nuclear safety principals and the setting of timetables for the management of radioactive waste.
In all other areas the proposal suggests that powers under the EURATOM
Treaty are no longer used or are no longer appropriate, these include:
To access Nagy et al. proposal click here
Within the Convention there has been no substantive debate on the future
of the EURATOM Treaty and consequently the first complete draft of the
Constitution proposed that the Praesidium option be adopted. This means:
To access relevant pages of draft (mid-June 2003 version) of draft Constitution access here.
1. Members of the Convention must take action in the next weeks to ensure that the current EURATOM proposal is not adopted. At the very minimum wording should be inserted into the draft proposal that calls for the review of the EURATOM Treaty with the objective of phasing it out by 2007, fifty years after its founding. This would mirror the life of the European Coal and Steel Community that was abandoned in 2002 after fifty years in existence.
2. If the current proposal is presented to the European Summit later this month in Thessaloniki then Member States must take action to highlight the failure of the Convention to fulfil its mandate. During the 1996 Inter Governmental Conference (IGC) process Ireland submitted a detailed proposal to amend the EURATOM Treaty, which got support from Austria, Luxembourg, and Sweden but was finally turned down. Now similar minded Member States must make a similar proposal to review the EURATOM Treaty within the subsequent IGC.
Failure by the Members of the Convention or Member States to undertake a thorough review of the potential role of the functions of the EURATOM Treaty threatens the credibility and even adoption of the new Constitution.
Already a number of Member States who have previously been sceptical
to the value of nuclear power in moderns society have declared that they
will have referendum's on the adoption of the Constitutions, these include,
Austria, Denmark and Ireland. In particular, in the latter two countries
they have also rejected previous EU Treaties in referendum. Given that
the Constitution must be adopted by all Member States prior to its entry
into force, its future maybe threatened by the current proposal.
For German version of this text access here
For a more detailed view of the proposals currently before the Convention and likely to be discussed in the Inter Governmental Conference click here