Brussels, 31 October 2006
13.10.2006 Type of Procedure: Consultation procedure
REPORT on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the Specific Programme to be carried out by means of direct actions by the Joint Research Centre implementing the 7th Framework Programme (2007-2011) of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for nuclear research and training activities
[...] EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
Nuclear safety: Given the increasing number of nuclear power plants throughout the world, nuclear safety has become a topic with relevance for the future and one that is likely only to grow in importance on account of considerations concerning climate protection. Regardless of the fact that certain Member States exercise their sovereignty by choosing not to have nuclear power plants operating on their territory, we cannot ignore the fact that other Member States choose, equally justifiably, to take a different path, and nuclear energy used for peaceful means is for a number of reasons unquestionably a factor in a balanced energy mix in the medium term. In this connection, we need to do more to tackle the issues of waste disposal and environmental impact, because even in the European Union there is room for improvement. The JRC will be given a decisive moderating role in this area.
Research into 'Generation IV' reactors is currently being conducted throughout the world. Regardless of whether or not we will use reactors of this kind in certain Member States in the future, the European Union must aim to take the lead in research efforts and follow developments closely. If we in the European Union want to take decisions when the safety and use of these reactors are being discussed in future, we will be able to do so only if the European Union keeps the necessary capacities available. The JRC will have to make efforts to ensure that contributions by Member States with regard to existing Generation IV research activities are better integrated and coordinated in future.
Nuclear security: The JRC has for years worked successfully in the area of nuclear security and has regularly made its expertise available to the Euratom Safeguards Office. Here, too, we in the EU must continue to maintain the necessary capacities. In particular, the issue of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is becoming increasingly topical against the background of recent international developments. The monitoring and security of nuclear fuels will play an important role in future for security policy reasons. The European Union cannot stand aside but must take part in the international scientific debate and monitor further political developments from a scientific point of view. In addition, EU enlargement and the questions that arise from it for new and old Member States provides the JRC with further areas for action in which it can use its expertise to make an important contribution.
Maintenance, transfer and diffusion of knowledge: In the field of nuclear energy, the European Union has in the past always been able to refer to the broad expertise of the European research landscape. In particular, the JRC has gained an international reputation in this area and has always produced outstanding results. This expertise must be kept for the benefit of future generations of scientists. In view of the threat of a loss of knowledge and a lack of new scientists and engineers in the area of nuclear technology, the JRC could establish itself as a European centre for the diffusion of information and for training and education. It is also important that the JRC continues to intensify systematically its relations with universities and research institutes in the Member States and to advance the European scientific area in this field.
Scientific excellence and participation in indirect actions: As an organisation with a primary responsibility to its stakeholders, but at the same time concerned with scientific excellence and independence, the JRC must always seek to strike a balance between the requirements of these working methods. The JRC must continue to be allowed to take part in public procurement procedures in the area of indirect measures. A redoubling of the efforts made to date would be desirable in this area. Also, additional fund-raising from other sources and the exploitation of intellectual property should continue to be authorised. This provides an automatic quality control and, in addition, contributes towards a high level of excellence and efficiency within the JRC.
Executive agency: The rapporteur maintains the view that implementation of the measures entrusted to the JRC does not require external coordination through a further executive agency. Administrating its work lies in the field of responsibilities of the JRC and will remain established there in the form of a flexible and efficient organisational structure. Possible conflicts of interest can be avoided by the building of 'Chinese walls', as is the case in investment banking, for example. The rapporteur therefore explicitly welcomes the fact that the Commission is considering establishing an executive agency only for the implementation of the specific programme for indirect measures. In the area of direct measures, what is needed to ensure efficiency and transparency is not an additional agency but a more streamlined organisation.