26 Feb (NucNet): The UK nuclear industry has welcomed comments in a speech by opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn that after Brexit he would want the country to remain a member of Euratom, the treaty which governs the use of nuclear energy and nuclear materials in the EU.
Mr Corbyn said in a policy speech on 26 February 2018 that “we will want to remain a part of agencies like Euratom, regulating nuclear materials in energy”.
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the London-based Nuclear Industry Association said the UK’s civil nuclear sector has consistently said that remaining a member of Euratom after the UK leaves the European Union is its preferred option, offering continuity and predictability in an otherwise uncertain environment.
He said: “The government’s position to replicate the current Euratom arrangements has already proved to be both a time-consuming and uncertain process, and it has only just begun.
“As yet, no new nuclear cooperation agreements have been signed, discussions for a new trading arrangement with the EU have not begun, an agreement on continued involvement in nuclear R&D has not yet been reached and without a transitional period and continued relationship with Euratom, a new safeguarding inspections regime will need to both be agreed and capable of implementation by March 2019 – something the Office of Nuclear Regulation has stated it would not be able to deliver. “
Mr Greatrex said the eventual outcome will be dependent upon negotiation and agreement with the European Commission, but seeking to retain the benefits of membership of Euratom and avoid the confusion and uncertainty of a lack of a close association with Euratom, is “sensible, pragmatic and in the interests of both the UK and continuing EU”.
Mr Corbyn said the country is “still in the dark” about what the government actually wants out of Brexit. “They can’t agree amongst themselves about what their priorities are or what future they want for Britain after Brexit.