Commission adopts recommendation on efficient use of nuclear decommissioning funds

October 25, 2006

Brussels, 24 October 2006

Driven by the overarching importance of the safety of citizens, the European Commission has adopted today a new Recommendation with measures to ensure adequate and properly managed financial resources for all decommissioning activities of nuclear installations as well as for the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

"The adoption of this Recommendation is a major step forward in making nuclear energy a safe and secure solution” said Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. "It would be of clear benefit for nuclear safety if rules for the constitution, management and use of decommissioning funds were harmonised throughout the EU in such a way that ensures sufficient funds will be available when required," he added.

As there is a debate on the revival of nuclear energy in several Member States, the Commission Recommendation pays special attention to new nuclear constructions. While a segregated fund – either externally or internally managed - with appropriate controls on use is the preferred option for all nuclear installations, a clear recommendation to this effect is made for the newly established ones.

The presently adopted Recommendation fully respects the subsidiarity principle in the field of nuclear safety, the responsibility for which lies with the license holder under the supervision of the national regulatory body. In this respect, the Commission proposes the establishment of competent national bodies, which are independent in their decisions from the contributors to the decommissioning funds, with a mandate and the capacity to deliver an expert judgment on decommissioning matters.

The Commission is also committed to establishing the necessary framework for continued consultation with the Member States within the scope of this Recommendation. In this light, the Commission intends to set up a permanent group of national experts as well as publishing an annual report on the use of decommissioning and waste management funds in all Member States concerned.

The decommissioning of nuclear installations is set to become an increasingly important issue in the years ahead. It is a fair assumption that approximately one third of the 148 power reactors currently operating in the enlarged European Union will need to be decommissioned by 2025.

In accordance with Directive 2003/54/EC on the internal market in electricity, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission made an inter-institutional statement underlining the need for Member States to ensure that adequate financial resources for decommissioning and waste management activities are actually available for their intended use and are managed in a transparent way, thus avoiding obstacles to fair competition on the internal electricity market in Europe. In line with this statement and stressing the need for increased harmonisation in the management of these financial resources, the Commission presented a Recommendation on decommissioning funding regimes.

Item source: IP/06/1466 Date: 24/10/2006

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