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SPEECH/11/289

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Speech by President Barroso at the Kiev Summit for safe and innovative use of Nuclear Energy

Kiev Summit for safe and innovative use of Nuclear Energy

Kiev, 19 April 2011

President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I appreciate we are gathering today here, in Kiev, to express our commitment that, twenty five years on, the legacy of Chernobyl will be fully resolved. This is also an occasion to renew our commitment to a safer future.

This morning, we demonstrated that through global solidarity and the continued commitment of all stakeholders we have the ability to bring an end to a nuclear legacy such as Chernobyl.

I am pleased that the Chernobyl Pledging Conference has raised the major part of funding for completion of the projects for stabilization and environmental safeguard of the Chernobyl site.

Since the beginning of the G8-lead action to address the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, the European Commission has been at the forefront of the efforts to help Ukraine bringing the Chernobyl site to a stable and environmentally safe condition.

We have so far committed some €470 million to Chernobyl-related projects. And today we have pledged another €110 million to contribute to the completion of the New Safe Confinement and of the construction of the Spent Fuel Storage Facility.

Since the early 1990’s, in addition to contributions to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund and the Nuclear Safety Account, the Commission had also funded many other bilateral projects with Ukraine related to the mitigation of the accident’s consequences and to radioactive waste management.

Moreover, the European Union took an important role in mobilizing the international community for this critical cause.

But our efforts must go further than addressing the consequences of accidents. We have to prevent them from occurring. We should take all action necessary to ensure the safety and security of nuclear energy for the future. Current events in Japan are a powerful reminder of the need to remain vigilant.

Nuclear safety – and unfortunately any potential accidents – do not recognize national borders. Nuclear safety is a global issue that requires a global response. We must work together to meet all the challenges related to the use of nuclear energy and technologies.

Safety must be a key priority for every country that decides to embark on, revive or continue in a civil nuclear programme. The highest nuclear safety standards must be respected throughout each stage of a nuclear power programme – starting from design, through operation, to eventual decommissioning and dismantlement of nuclear installations.

That's why we are also here to reaffirm our will and commitment to work together so that those countries which decide to use nuclear energy, do so in the safest possible way for the benefit of all.

Recognizing the importance of international cooperation in the nuclear sector, the European Union has been pursuing a close dialogue and collaboration with other partner countries around the world.

Through our specific instruments, such as the Euratom Agreements, or the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation, we have been aiming at ensuring worldwide the highest standards of nuclear safety and security, respect of non-proliferation commitments and adherence to the relevant international conventions.

We are currently cooperating within these frameworks with some 30 countries, and keep developing further contacts in order to promote the highest standards which we already apply within the European Union.

The EU Member States have very different approaches as regards the use of nuclear energy.

We consider that the choice of energy mix, including nuclear energy, is a sovereign decision of individual countries. However, nuclear safety is our common objective.

We have established a common binding legal framework for the safety of nuclear installations, defining fundamental obligations and principles throughout the European Union.

Moreover, we are expecting that an EU legally binding framework on the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste will be adopted soon.

For the future, we must strive to continuously improve our safety standards and ensure that the highest levels of norms are complied with – not only within the European Union, but at the global level.

As you know we will be carrying out risk and safety assessments of our nuclear plants until the end of the year. We will also invite neighbouring countries to participate in these stress tests exercise.

And I believe that a partnership with the IAEA and an impulse from the G20 would be instrumental to carrying out these stress tests beyond our neighbouring countries.

Let's be clear, decisive progress has to be made towards the highest possible worldwide security standards for nuclear plants. We owe it to our citizens and the future generations. Here, today, is the right place and the right moment to clearly state our firm commitment to be up to the task.

I thank you for your attention


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