12.01.2018_No9 / News in Brief

UK Energy Minister Outlines Progress And Plans For Withdrawal from Euratom

Policies & Politics

12 Jan (NucNet): The UK is aiming for continuity with existing Euratom arrangements and wants to include Euratom in any implementation period agreed as part of wider discussions on Brexit, energy secretary Greg Clark said in a written statement to parliament on 11 January 2018.

Mr Clark said the UK plans to put in place “all the necessary measures” to ensure that the UK could operate as an independent and responsible nuclear state from day one of Brexit and its separation from the Euratom Teaty, which regulates the nuclear industry and the movement of nuclear material across Europe.

According to Mr Clark’s statement, the government has made good progress on separation issues in the last few months as part of phase one of negotiations with the EU. Negotiations have covered a set of legal and technical issues related to nuclear material and waste, and safeguards obligations and equipment.

The next phase of discussions will focus on the UK’s future relationship with Euratom. Specific objectives include a close association with the Euratom Research and Training Programme, including the Joint European Torus (JET) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) projects;

The UK wants continuity of open trade arrangements for nuclear goods and products to ensure the nuclear industry is able to continue to trade across EU borders without disruption.

The statement also said the nuclear sector needs to access the workforce it needs for decommissioning, operation of existing facilities and new-build projects. Proposals for the UK’s future immigration system will be set out shortly and “we will ensure that those businesses and communities, and parliament have the opportunity to contribute their views before making any decisions about the future system”, the statement said.

Whatever the outcome of negotiations with the EU, it is vital that the civil nuclear industry has a safeguards regime that meets international standards. But this is not dependent on the EU negotiations and the UK government is well advanced in delivering this plan, the statement said.

The UK is establishing a legislative and regulatory framework for a domestic safeguards regime which will provide legal powers to establish a domestic regime which the Office for Nuclear Regulation will regulate. It is also negotiating bilateral safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency and putting in place bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with key third countries.

The London-based Nuclear Industry Association welcomed the government’s statement and its commitment to update parliament every three months. The NIA also welcomed clarity on the government’s intention to negotiate an implementation period to ensure a smooth transition from the current to new arrangements.

NIA chief executive Tom Greatrex said the UK industry and research facilities have been consistently clear with government about the importance of these issues since the referendum. “Even with a suitable transition, there remains much work for the government to do to prevent the significant disruption that industry is concerned about.”

Mr Greatrex said the UK needs to agree a voluntary agreement with the IAEA; negotiate and ratify new bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and others; agree new trading arrangements with the Euratom community and conclude a new funding agreement for the UK to continue its work in Euratom’s fusion R&D activities.

Mr Clark’s statement is online: http://bit.ly/2CQ1wwQ

Related reports in the NucNet database (available to subscribers):

  • Brexit: UK Government Introduces Nuclear Safeguards Bill To Parliament (News in Brief No.204, 12 October 2017)




David Dalton

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