Presidency note on monitoring nuclear safety in candidate countries

April 26, 2002

Brussels, 25 April 2002

Nuclear safety in the context of enlargement: Working Programme of the AQG Working Party on Nuclear Safety for the Monitoring Process. Presidency note. Brussels, 7 January 2002 (document 5034/02 LIMITE ATO 1 ELARG 1; No. prev. doc.: 10729/01 ELARG 167). Full text

1. Background

On 6 June 2001, the Permanent Representatives Committee took note of the Report of the Atomic Questions Group (AQG) and its ad hoc formation the Working Party on Nuclear Safety (WPNS) on Nuclear Safety in the Context of Enlargement (doc. 9181/01) and the recommendations contained therein. It instructed the Enlargement Group to take these recommendations into consideration in the accession negotiations. On 11 June 2001, the General Affairs Council also took note of the report and reconfirmed the objective of a high level of nuclear safety in the candidate countries, as underlined by the European Council.

According to the procedures, the Commission has transmitted the respective recommendations in the AQG/WPNS report to the candidate countries negotiating accession, indicating that they should be considered as specifications to the EU's Common Position on Chapter 14 with regard to nuclear safety, also recalling, for the relevant countries, the EU Common Position with regard to closure commitments. The candidate countries were invited to accept the recommendations in writing to the Accession Conference by the end of October 2001, and to indicate specific time schedules envisaged for implementing each recommendation, with due regard to the priority assigned in the report (type I or type II recommendation). The Annex includes the information received up to date from the different candidate countries.

2. Mandate and scope

Doc. 10729/01, approved by Coreper in July 2001, includes, in its Annex, a monitoring process of the commitments made by candidate countries and its implementation, in the following terms:.

"When defining the mandate to the AQG/WPNS, the Council stressed that "the enlargement process should not lead to a transfer of competencies of the Member States to the Community". Consequently, the usual structure for monitoring of compliance with the acquis cannot apply in this case.

Instead, monitoring in this area should follow the practice established in certain other fields, for instance Justice and Home Affairs, or fields where the Commission has called on Member State experts to exercise effective monitoring (e.g., banking and financial services).

Accordingly, the AQG/WPNS is mandated, as of January 2002, to conduct the monitoring under a "Peer Review" mechanism, following the model used during the elaboration of the AQG/WPNS report. The Peer Review will be finalised for each candidate country in time to permit an overall evaluation of this country's situation before the conclusion of the accession negotiations. The AQG/WPNS will inform the Enlargement Group regularly on the progress of the Peer Review.

On specific questions that might arise in the monitoring process, the Peer Review mechanism will provide for the Commission the possibility, established in the course of the work of the AQG and the WPNS, to solicit information from candidate countries on behalf of the Council.

Small teams of experts from the AQG and its ad hoc formation the WPNS and the Commission may also visit candidate countries to seek further technical clarification on specific questions. Similarly, candidate countries should have the possibility to seek technical clarification through the Commission on specific questions related to the recommendations in the AQG/WPNS report, following discussion of the AQG/WPNS.

It is evident that the monitoring exercise can only be conducted with the support of professional expertise. Like in the process to establish the situation in the candidate countries, the experts involved in the Peer Review mechanism will be constrained to merely express a technical opinion on their findings.

Relevant information about the monitoring mechanism as envisaged above will be included in the transmission of the respective recommendations to the candidate countries."

3. Monitoring methodology

>From the mandate above and taking into account the modalities agreed under the Belgian Presidency, the following elements are proposed for performing the monitoring work:

3.1. Scope of the monitoring process

The Presidency intends to address, through the expert group, recommendations related to all types of installations included in the AQG/WPNS report, and not limit it to the nuclear power plants. The recommendations concerning other installations are largely related to the adequacy of the legal framework and the regulatory authority, so the experience of the expert group is considered also very valuable to address the other types of installations.

3.2. Objective of the monitoring process

As the basic principle, the monitoring process is not intended to discuss again the AQG/WPNS report, but instead to evaluate the information submitted by the candidate countries, checking for completeness and technical adequacy. The evaluation should first verify that all recommendations, general as well as country-specific, included in the report have been addressed by the candidate country. Secondly, the main goal will be to evaluate the technical adequacy of each commitment made to address the safety concern included in the respective recommendation, including the feasibility of the schedule proposed and taking into account the availability and qualification of the resources in the candidate countries.

For performing such a technical evaluation, use will be made, in particular, of the regulatory practices and experiences in the existing member states.

In evaluating the commitments made and the implementation proposed by candidate countries, it should be understood that in any case demands made in this subject to the candidates countries ought not to be stricter than for monitoring activities in areas covered by the acquis. Examples of demands connected with monitoring activities in such areas will be provided by the Council or the Commission Services.

Also, it should be kept in mind, as pointed out in doc 9181/01, that the competence and responsibilities relating to the safety of a nuclear installation lie with the State, which has jurisdiction for the installation concerned. Therefore, the WPNS should not duplicate the detailed assessment of each safety improvement programme, which is the responsibility of the licensing authority of the candidate country. Rather, the AQG/WPNS evaluation should focus on the key aspects to consider the commitment made as adequate, such as technical feasibility, timely schedule, qualified resources, etc.

3.3. Documentation

The following are the basic documents that will be used by WPNS for monitoring purposes
- AQG/WPNS report (doc 9181/01)
- Request letters from the Commission to the candidate countries
- Information submitted or to be provided by the candidate countries to the Commission

3.4. Requests for clarifications and additional information

It is presumed that the monitoring process can mainly be based on the responses received from candidate countries. However, if found necessary, the monitoring mandate provides the possibility, established in the course of the work of the AQG and the WPNS, to solicit information on specific questions from candidate countries on behalf of the Council or that small teams of experts may visit candidate countries to seek further technical clarification on specific questions. The need for the additional information and the best means to obtain it, will be previously agreed by the WPNS, in view of its relevance and necessity for performing the monitoring process at the appropriate level of detail, respecting the responsibility of the licensing authority of the candidate country. Any requests for clarifications and additional information from Candidate States should be defined and submitted early in the process so that the information is available when a consolidated report is being prepared.

3.5. Working method.

According to the mandate, the intention is to follow the same basic approach used for the preparation of the AQG/WPNS report, in view of its practicality and expecting a similar membership of the expert group.

Similarly as in the evaluation process, it is of primary importance that the monitoring process ensures that all Member States can participate on an equal footing. Thus, the monitoring is organised as a collective effort of experts from all Member States. It is equally essential that all Candidate States are monitored in a consistent manner.

The Presidency expects a somewhat simplified process as compared to the evaluation phase, keeping in mind that that the monitoring only covers a limited number of recommendations per candidate country, and does not involve an overall safety evaluation. The Presidency therefore does not envisage the need for working groups and consider that it is possible to work from the beginning as a single group, but using the former rapporteurs as support for the Presidency, in drafting the monitoring report. Since Spain was one of the rapporteurs, the Presidency proposes Sweden to take this position to provide for continuity between the two efforts.

The Presidency envisages the following main steps:
- First meeting in early January with the objective to
- Update inventory of responses from candidate countries
- Present and discuss working method
- Request delegations to indicate to Presidency before end of January (e.g. 25th) first impressions on the adequacy and completeness of responses from candidate countries as well as possible need for clarifications from candidate countries. The Presidency will consult with rapporteurs in old country groups. Member States will be asked to pay particular attention to responses from candidate countries in their former group.

- Second meeting beginning of February with the objective to
- Finalise working method and schedule
- Present and discuss compilation of "first impressions and possible needs for clarifications and additional information"
- Agree on any requests found necessary for clarifications and additional information and on any needs for visits to selected candidate countries
- The Presidency, working with rapporteurs, develops first tentative draft of report (with caveats should additional information have been requested), based on discussions at second meeting as above. Reactions to this first draft requested from all Member States by e-mail.
- The Presidency working with rapporteurs, develops second draft based on reactions received.

- Third meeting (end of February) to discuss second draft, possibly with late amendments based on clarifications received from candidate countries.
- Subsequent development and refinement of monitoring report.

3.6. Monitoring report

The Presidency intends to produce a final report of the monitoring process consisting of one 'fiche' per Candidate State. This fiche will indicate for each specific recommendation in the WPNS report, if the information submitted is, from the technical point of view, adequate to address the recommendation in an acceptable manner.

This country fiche will cover not only the specific recommendations for each candidate state, but also the general recommendations, as indicated in the letter sent by the Commission.

Each 'fiche' should be limited to the main findings from the monitoring evaluation and should clearly express the technical opinion of the group with regard to the adequacy of the commitments made by the candidate countries, indicating if the recommendations are adequately addressed. If not found fully adequate, the group should identify, to the extent possible, the part(s) of the recommendation(s) that are not properly addressed by the commitments under consideration..

4. Timetable

It is foreseen that the efforts needed for the monitoring process would be considerably smaller than the evaluation process and the preparation of the AQG/WPNS report. The Presidency intends to complete the report within its mandate period, and in time for one of the General Affairs Council preceding the European Council in Seville. The report should thus be completed by mid-May.

With these time constraints in mind, the Presidency will introduce the programme and working process at the first AQG meeting on January 9th, and call for the first specific meeting of the WPNS in February, expecting that delegations will nominate members in a short term. This implies that the meeting proposed for February 1st will address general items, including establishing the working schedule.

Annex: Candidate Country responses to Council Report on Nuclear Safety in the Context of Enlargement (as of 19.12.01)...

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