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Brussels, 20 February 2008

Commissioner Piebalgs underlines the importance of common European rules in the field of Nuclear Safety and Waste Management

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs met with the first chairman of the European High Level Group (HLG) on Nuclear Safety and Waste Management, Mr Andrej Stritar, in Brussels today. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss nuclear safety and waste management issues, particularly the establishment of common European rules in the field, ahead of the HLG's third meeting in April.

"Citizens main concerns in the field of nuclear energy are nuclear safety and the radioactive waste management. The Commission's foremost priorities in the field aim at addressing these concerns. It is essential that the member's of the HLG agree on common principles governing nuclear safety, which will ensure a solid basis for the Group's future activities" said Commissioner Piebalgs after meeting with Mr. Stritar.

Mr Piebalgs said he expects that the work of the Group, being based on the national experience and competence of its high-level members, will help identify the areas where common EU nuclear safety standards would increase safety and public confidence.

The High Level Group 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. It is composed of senior officials from national regulatory or nuclear safety authorities, who will help the Commission to identify priority safety issues, as well as advise and assist it in progressively developing European rules regarding the safety of nuclear installations and the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. The European Council of 8-9 March endorsed the Commission's proposal to create the European High Level Group on Nuclear Safety and Waste management. With the support of various other EU institutions for this idea, the European Commission established the group in July 2007.

The group will meet for the third time on 21 April 2008 (first meeting took place in October 2007). It should adopt its work programme, as well as the terms of reference for three working parties to deal respectively with the safety of nuclear installations, radioactive waste management and communication and transparency.

Mr Andrej Stritar is Director of Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration. From 1977 to 1992, he worked as a researcher at the Josef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, where he also held the position of Head of the Nuclear Training Centre from 1993 to 2002. From 1991 to 2002, Mr Stritar was President of the Nuclear Society of Slovenia, and from 2002 to 2003 - President of European Nuclear Society (ENS, a non-governmental organisation promoting and contributing to scientific progress and engineering in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy). He received his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Maribor, Slovenia, in 1986.

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