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Convention on Nuclear Safety

This Decision regards the Accession of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, adopted under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations.

ACT

Commission Decision 1999/819/Euratom of 16 November 1999 concerning the accession to the 1994 Convention on Nuclear Safety by the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

SUMMARY

Context

The Convention on Nuclear Safety is an international convention which aims to improve nuclear safety worldwide.

All Member States of the European Union (EU) are party to the Convention. The Community established by the Euratom Treaty shares jurisdiction with Member States in the fields governed by the Convention. The Community acceded to the Convention on 30 January 2000.

Euratom Responsibilities

Euratom does not possess nuclear installations as defined in the Convention. The safety of nuclear installations is the main responsibility of the holder of the corresponding licence from the Member State on whose territory the installation has been set up. The responsibilities of Euratom within the Convention are derived from the provisions in the Treaty (Title II, Chapter 3) dealing with the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers of ionising radiation as confirmed by the Court of Justice (judgment C-29/99).

Objectives

The Convention has three main objectives:

  • to achieve and maintain a high level of nuclear safety through the enhancement of national measures and technical cooperation;
  • to establish and maintain effective defences against radiological hazards in nuclear installations in order to protect people and the environment, etc.;
  • to prevent nuclear accidents and limit their consequences.

The Convention does not give detailed safety standards but represents a commitment to the application of fundamental safety principles for nuclear installations.

Scope

The Convention applies to the safety of fixed civil nuclear power plants including facilities for storage, handling and treatment of radioactive materials that are on the same site and are directly related to the operation of the nuclear power plant.

Implementation

The parties to the Convention are committed to establishing a legislative and regulatory and administrative framework to ensure the safety of nuclear installations which provides for:

  • the establishment of sufficient national safety requirements and regulations;
  • a system for licensing nuclear installations and the prohibition of operating without a licence;
  • a system of inspection and assessment. Comprehensive and systematic assessments should be carried out before the construction and commissioning of an installation and throughout its life;
  • measures to enforce the regulations and the terms of licensing (suspension or revocation of licences, etc.).

The parties must set up an independent regulatory body to grant licenses and to ensure that the regulations are correctly implemented. The duties of this body must be effectively separated from those of any other organisation whose task is to promote or use nuclear energy.

Those responsible for the plants must draw up a strategy prioritising safety and a quality assurance programme to ensure that the requirements are met. Emergency measures must also be put in place, detailing the procedures for informing the relevant authorities, such as hospitals.

Each party to the Convention must submit to the other parties a report on the measures that they have taken to meet the requirements of the Treaty at regular review meetings.

Safety of Installations

The regulatory body is in charge of granting operating licences to nuclear installations. The Convention specifies assessment criteria for each phase in the life of an installation: siting, design and construction, and operation.

In choosing the site, one must consider, inter alia, its effect on the safety of the installation and the effects of the installation on individuals and the environment. Other contracting parties in the vicinity of the site must also be consulted if the installation is likely to have consequences for them.

Regarding design and construction, safety measures must be put in place against the release of radioactive materials and to make sure that the techniques and equipment used are proven by experience or testing, for example.

Authorisation to operate a nuclear installation is based on safety analysis and a commissioning plan. The management of the installation must conform with the regulations established by the national authorities. Programmes to collect and analyse data must also be introduced.

Each installation must also have on-site and off-site emergency plans to protect workers, the general public, the environment, etc. in the case of a radiological emergency.

Organisational arrangements

Parties meet at least once every three years. The parties look at reports on the measures that they have each taken to fulfil the Treaty obligations. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). provides the secretariat.

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 1999/819/Euratom

16.11.1999

-

OJ L 318 of 11.12.1999

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2004/491/Euratom

1.5.2004

-

OJ L 172 of 6.5.2004

RELATED ACTS

PROPOSALS

Proposal for a Council Directive (Euratom) setting up a Community framework for nuclear safety [COM(2008) 790 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Proposal replaces and updates the Proposal which was presented in September 2004. It aims at establishing a common Community framework to define basic obligations on the safety of nuclear installations whilst strengthening the role of national regulatory bodies. The general objective of the Proposal is to achieve, maintain and continuously improve nuclear safety in the European Union. It also aims at enhancing the role of national regulatory bodies, by ensuring their independence and the appropriate financial and human resources to allow them to fulfil their duties. It will anchor the international principles of nuclear safety arising from the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Fundamentals in Community law, thus giving the European Union its own provisions in this field. For the moment, the Member States and the European Union are only Parties to the IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety, which is only of a voluntary nature and therefore does not lead to any sanctions in cases of non-compliance.

Its scope includes the design, siting, construction, maintenance, operation and decommissioning of nuclear installations.

It focuses on giving a precise definition of the terms ‘nuclear installations’, ‘nuclear safety’, radioactive material’, ‘decommissioning’, ‘radioactive waste’, ‘spent fuel’, ‘ionising radiation’, ‘regulatory body’, ‘licence’ and ‘new power reactors’.

Member States are still responsible for the legislative and regulatory framework for the safety of nuclear installations. They must ensure the independence of the regulatory body which grants licences and carries out inspections on siting, design, construction, commissioning, operation or decommissioning of nuclear installations.

Moreover, Member States should comply with the obligations and requirements set in the International Atomic Energy Agency Convention on Nuclear Safety, as well as the Agency’s Safety Fundamentals.

The population shall be informed of the procedures and the results of the surveillance activities on nuclear safety. Every three years, Member States must submit a report to the European Commission on the implementation of the directive.

Consultation procedure (CNS/2008/0231)

Proposal for a Council (Euratom) Directive Setting out basic obligations and general principles on the safety of nuclear installations [COM(2003) 32 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Proposal for a Council Directive (Euratom) on the management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste [COM(2003) 32 final – Non publié au Journal officiel].

DECISIONS

Council Decision of 15 December 2003 amending the Council Decision of 7 December 1998 approving the accession of the European Atomic Energy Community to the Nuclear Safety Convention with regard to the Declaration attached thereto – Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Decision of 23 May 2005, approving the conclusion of the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident [COM(2004) 560 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Decision of 23 May 2005, approving the conclusion of the Convention on Assistance in the case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency [COM(2004) 560 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

CONVENTION ON NUCLEAR SAFETY

Convention on Nuclear Safety adopted in Vienna on 20 September 1994.

Declaration by the European Atomic Energy Community in accordance with the provisions of Article 30 (4) of the Convention on Nuclear Safety [Official Journal L 318 of 11.12.1999].

REPORTS ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION

Report of 9 October 2001 on the implementation of the obligations of the Convention on Nuclear Safety [COM(2001) 568 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
This is the first Euratom report on the measures taken as a result of the Convention and refers to the health and safety provisions of the Euratom Treaty (Title II, Chapter 3), as well as Community legislation on radiation protection and emergency preparedness, for which Community jurisdiction was declared in Commission Decision 1999/819/Euratom (OJ L 318, 11.12.1999, p. 20). The report was presented at the second review meeting in Vienna in 2002.

Concerning radiation protection, Directive 96/29/Euratom lays down basic standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation. This directive is the central element of the legislation on radiation protection. It lays down, inter alia, the implementation procedure and fundamental principles.

There are two main pieces of European legislation on emergency preparedness. The first, Decision 87/600/Euratom, concerns the early exchange of information between authorities in the event of a radiologicial emergency. The second, Directive 89/618/Euratom, concerns informing the general public about measures to be taken in the event of an emergency.

Euratom also tackles the planned activities to improve safety. The key action ‘Nuclear Fission’ from the 5th Framework Programme for research (1998-2002) is an important framework for activity with the Joint Research Centre (JRC).

Report of 13 October 2004 (pdf ) on the implementation of the obligations under the Convention on Nuclear Safety– 3rd Review meeting of the Contracting Parties [C(2004) 3742 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This is the second Euroatom report on measures taken as a result of the Convention. It refers to the provisions concerning health protection of the Euratom Treaty (Title II, Chapter 3), and Community legislation in the field of radiation protection and emergency preparedness. Having regard to the new Declaration (Council Decision of 15 December 2003, not published in the Official Journal), the report includes information in line with articles 7, and 14 to 19 of the Convention (legislative and regulatory framework, assessment and verification of safety, radiation protection, emergency preparedness, siting, design, construction and operation. It was presented at the third review meeting in Vienna in 2005.

Report of 1 October 2007 (pdf ) on the implementation of obligations under the Convention on Nuclear Safety – 4th Review meeting of the Contracting Parties [C(2007)4492 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

COMMUNICATIONS

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 6 September 2000 - Commission support to nuclear safety in the Newly Independent States and Central and Eastern Europe [COM(2000) 493 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: "Nuclear safety in the European Union" [COM(2002) 605 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 11.05.2009

See also

For further information, visit the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport’s nuclear energy website and the website for the Convention on Nuclear Safety of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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