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Brussels, 15 October 2008

Commissioner Piebalgs underlines the need to reinforce rules on nuclear safety

Today, at the fifth meeting of the High Level Group (HLG) on Nuclear Safety and Waste Management, Andris Piebalgs, Energy Commissioner highlighted the need for a higher level of nuclear safety.

"While we can see a potential rise in the use of nuclear energy around the globe as well as in the EU, European citizens call for a strong European role in the field of nuclear safety", said the Commissioner.

Commissioner Piebalgs opened the meeting by highlighting the increased attention given to nuclear safety issues by the European Institutions and the IAEA and the importance attached to the need for a higher level of nuclear safety, better management of radioactive waste and better communication to the public through the broader stakeholder consensus provided by the European Nuclear Energy Forum.

Andris Piebalgs congratulated the HLG Members on their work over the last twelve months; with the already established work programme on waste management and transparency issues underway, and the expected finalisation of a work programme for nuclear safety issues. However, the Commissioner recognised that timely action is now required.

The HLG, which is required to prepare its findings for the Commission for reporting to the European Parliament and Council next summer, has already demonstrated that there is a consensus on nuclear waste management and transparency of information, and coherence with the principles of the Convention on Nuclear Safety. In the meantime, the Commission is considering to table new legislation to ensure that the nuclear safety priorities and common approaches identified by the HLG are upheld and harmonisation of the highest safety standards is implemented throughout the EU. The role and independence of national regulators is of specific importance in this context.

The HLG was created by the European Commission in order to develop common understanding and reinforce common approaches in the fields of nuclear safety and waste management[1]. The Group, composed of senior officials from national regulatory or nuclear safety authorities, is helping the Commission to identify priority safety issues, as well as to advise and assist the Commission in progressively developing Community rules regarding the safety of nuclear installations and the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

[1] Commission Decision C(2007)3393 final of 17 July 2007

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