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ENERGY : IMPROVE EU NUCLEAR SAFETY STANDARDS, SAYS ITRE.

Parliament's Committee on Energy (ITRE) votes to amend Directive 2009/71 EURATOM on nuclear safety advocating stronger roles for EU institutions

With the Fukushima disaster still fresh in the mind, stronger roles have to be given to the EU institutions to enhance safety standards in the Union's nuclear industry. This feeling was evident during the final vote by members of the European Parliament's Committee on Energy (ITRE) on amending the directive on nuclear safety, on 18 March. The result was 37 votes to 15.

The amendments to the current directive, initially proposed by the European Commission in June 2013, include enhanced safety in areas such as on-site emergency preparedness, periodic self-assessments and peer reviews, security definition levels and increased transparency.

However, in the preceding debate, some divisions were evident especially regarding the extent to which the Commission can exert control. Some MEPs expressed concerns over maintaining optimum independence for national regulatory authorities (NRAs), whereby an increased role for the Commission would not be necessary.

ITRE's rapporteur Romana Jordan, (EPP, Slovenia) advocated the increased involvement of the European Parliament, despite it not legally being able to exercise co-decision in this area. "It is very clear that the legal basis for this lies with EURATOM but I personally agree that we have to fight for a stronger role for the European Parliament," Jordan said.

To somewhat rectify this, compromise Amendment 7a concerning peer reviews every six years - supported by the rapporteur and approved by the committee - calls for Parliament to be "regularly informed about the results of the peer reviews as well as about related measures and plans".

Also included is a more enhanced role for the Commission. If the member states fail to agree on a specific nuclear safety topic for review then "the Commission shall select the topics to be the subject of peer reviews".

Representing the Commission at the meeting, Massimo Garribba, head of unit for nuclear safety, spoke of his appreciation that MEPs were fully behind the update of the directive: "The key concepts of the revision of this directive - transparency, independence and safety - have been fully subscribed to by Parliament." However, for the Greens the amendments are not strong enough, and according to Michele Rivasi (France) they do not give the NRAs "the powers of sanction to prevent operators from taking foolish risks".

The ITRE decision will be voted on in plenary on April 3.

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Title Annotation:Committee on Industry, Research and Energy
Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Mar 20, 2014
Words:398
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