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Euratom Reform

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Market Concentration

European Commission's
Nuclear Package

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Euratom is one of the founding treaties of the EU. It calls for support for nuclear power across the EU and is the only Treaty which supports the development of a particular energy source. However, currently in the EU seven Member States do not have nuclear power, while four more have the political objective of phasing out their nuclear power programs. Throughout the EU there are no reactors under construction. Despite this the Euratom Treaty remains.

One activity of Euratom is to provide loans for the construction of nuclear power plants in the EU, accession countries and the former Soviet Union. However, the nuclear loan facility is nearly exhausted and will therefore require additional funds. This requires the approval of the European Commission and the unanimous approval of Member States.

On the 6th November the European Commission approved a proposal to both extend the Euratom Loan ceiling by a further €2 billion and to adjust the type of projects and the percentage that the EU can fund – adjustments in the Loan scope. These documents were finally placed on the Commission’s web site on the 15th November. These proposals will be sent to the ECOFIN for approval. The change in the loan ceiling does not require the support or discussion by the European Parliament and so can be sent to the ECOFIN soon, where it will require the unanimous support of Member States. Any change in the loan scope will first require discussion within the Parliament and then unanimous approval by the ECOFIN.

However, the proposal to extend the Euratom Loan ceiling should never have been approved by the Commission as the loan signed and subsequent value of the transactions have not reached the level at which action is required by the Commission. Furthermore, the explanatory Memorandum justifying the proposal contains a number of misleading statements and errors which totally invalidate the proposed extension. In the light of these errors Member States must make clear their objects to the proposal to extend the loan ceiling and instead call for the loan facility to be abandoned.

Independent of the extension of the loan ceiling decision Member States should demand changes in the scope of the Euratom Loan facility to ensure that any future loans – with the remaining funds in the existing funds or if the fund is extended – are only used in the areas which are stated priorities for the Euratom loans, namely to increase the safety of nuclear power stations or for decommissioning of nuclear facilities.

It is essential that the changes in the scope and loan ceiling occur simultaneously to ensure that if additional funds are made available that these can only be used for the defined priorities of additional safety measures of already operating reactors and for decommissioning.

The links below give both the English language version of the Commission’s proposals and a critique of them.

Ceiling Increase Paper

Change in the Scope

Critique of Commission’s proposals

Longer Briefing on Euratom Loans (September 2002)

For other language versions of the Commission's papers please visit:

January 2003:
The European Commission and Member States have started discussions on the extension of the loan ceiling. The first formal meeting was held in December 2002, where a number of questions were raised. In response to these questions the European Commission produced a ‘non-paper’ which gave more details of past and future loans.

Remarkably the Commission stated that they are discussing with the Russian authorities for the completion of an RMBK design of reactor. This is the same design that resulted in the disastrous accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine in 1986. As a result the international community have been seeking the closure of all of the reactors in operation in the former Soviet Union of this design. As a result all of the remaining RBMKs at Chernobyl are now closed and similar reactors in Lithuania are now scheduled to be closed by the end of the decade. By proposing to complete a new RBMK at Kursk in Russia, the Commission is undermining these efforts and are destroying their credibility as an organising seeking to improve nuclear safety in Eastern Europe.

A copy of the leaked non-paper can be accessed here, while a briefing which highlights the some of the other problems of the Euratom Loan proposal can also be accessed here

June 2003: As a result of the leaked documentation, the European Commission and Council asked Member States for written questions on the future of the European Loans. The replies to Member States has now been obtained and it makes interesting reading as it shows:

- Loans totalling €2.68 billion have been awarded for expanding the EU's nuclear power sector
- A loan of €108.9 million was awarded to a reprocessing facility in the UK in 1986. This was the period in which the Thorp reprocessing plant at Sellafield was under-construction.
- Five loans worth €170 million have been awarded in France for enrichment of fuel.
- Only one loan, worth €70 million has ever been given for waste management.

A more detailed critique of the replies can be accessed here.

During a meeting of the Finance Working Group, which is currently reviewing the extension of the Euratom Loan ceiling, the Council's legal services again failed to produce a written opinion on the future voting requirements. This is expected shortly.