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Brussels, 13 November 2008

Update to the Commission's Nuclear Illustrative Programme

The European Commission has launched a wide-ranging energy package which gives a new boost to energy security in Europe. One of the key actions proposed is to stimulate investment in more efficient, low-carbon energy infrastructure. As part of the energy package, the Commission has updated its 2007 Nuclear Illustrative Programme (PINC)[1], proposing that future construction uses the latest technology; ensuring the highest standards of nuclear safety as well as simplifying and harmonising the currently differing licensing requirements and procedures in the Member States. Nuclear energy plays an important role in the transition to a low carbon economy and reduces EU external supply dependency. The choice to include nuclear energy in the energy mix lies with the Member States. Nevertheless, it should be noted that if strategic investment decisions about power generation capacities in nuclear as well as in renewable energy are taken rapidly, nearly two thirds of EU's electricity generation could be low carbon in the early 2020s.

It remains for each Member State to decide whether or not to rely on nuclear power for the generation of electricity. With 148 reactors spread over 15 EU Member States, today nuclear power contributes about one third of Europe’s electricity. Decisions to construct new or replace existing nuclear power plants have been taken in Bulgaria, Finland, France and Slovakia. Firm plans are underway in Romania and the United Kingdom and other EU countries, including the Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands. Lithuania together with Estonia and Latvia, as well as Poland, are also considering new nuclear power plants.

However, if the planned shut down of nuclear reactors within some EU Member States continues, this share will be significantly reduced.

The updated PINC addresses some of the key issues that were raised in recent debates by the European Economic and Social Committee, the European Parliament and the European Nuclear Energy Forum. These include:

  • Link between nuclear energy and security of supply, with a special focus on the investment needs (replacement / life extension of ageing power plants) and security of supply for nuclear fuels;
  • Role of public authorities with emphasis in the EU on nuclear safety and waste management (outside the EU on security / non-proliferation);
  • Importance of public acceptance of nuclear energy and factors influencing it.

More information here.

[1] Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament "Nuclear Illustrative Programme" – COM/2007/565-1, OF 4.10.2007.

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