13.07.2017_No138 / News in Brief

Position Paper Confirms UK Will Quit Euratom Nuclear Treaty

Policies & Politics

13 Jul (NucNet): The UK’s Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) has published a position paper on the UK’s stance on the European atomic energy community (Euratom), saying the UK would quit the treaty but seek to work with Euratom’s member countries to ensure a “smooth transition” to a new regime of nuclear cooperation and safeguards.

European flag. Credit: Rock Cohen.

The position paper resists calls for a rethink on withdrawal and says leaving Euratom is an inevitable consequence of triggering article 50 and proceeding to Brexit – a position shared by the European negotiators.

The position paper, published on 13 July 2017, shows the government is not changing course from its decision in January to leave the treaty, despite warnings this week that doing so could undermine safety, affect investment in new nuclear and research, and threaten the supply of radioactive isotopes.

Politicians and the nuclear industry have urged ministers to consider an associate membership, an option that does not appear in the paper.

The position paper says that as part of the UK’s “orderly withdrawal”, and to provide certainty to industry and reassurance to all, it is important to work through certain issues in the initial phases of discussion.

Those issues include nuclear safeguards arrangements and the provision of legal certainty on immediate issues related to nuclear material in both the UK and Euratom.

The nuclear industry said ministers had failed to give the sector enough clarity to date on the government’s plans regarding Euratom.

“While containing very little detail, the UK government’s position paper demonstrates the complexity of replicating Euratom arrangements in UK regulation and cooperation agreements with third countries which the industry has warned of,” said Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the London-based Nuclear Industry Association.

The position paper is online: http://bit.ly/2t6t9kl

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