On 9 February 2015 a diplomatic conference on the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) was held in Vienna. An important outcome of this conference was the adoption of the Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety.
According to the political commitments contained in it
- new nuclear power plants are to be constructed, so that should an accident occur, no long-term protective measures in terms of external emergency response are required, and
- to the extent possible, existing installations are to be improved to meet the technical principles for new installations.
- The parties have committed to reporting regularly on the implementation of these goals.
Even if an anchoring of the provisions in the text of the Convention ultimately could not be agreed upon by the 77 contracting parties, the Vienna Declaration is a step in the right direction. The international community has given a further signal to improve the safety of nuclear power plants as a result of the reactor accidents at Fukushima.
The conference succeeded in extending the reach of the security objectives that are already in place in the European Union on the basis of the nuclear safety Directive 2014/87/Euratom, which was adopted in July 2014, around the world through the Vienna Declaration and thus the CNS.
The fact that the European Union member states were united on the issue contributed significantly to the success of the diplomatic conference. The Vienna Declaration requires contracting parties to report on the establishment and implementation of the technical principles in national regulations in the respective review meetings.
The convening of the diplomatic conference was decided in April 2014 at the Sixth Review Meeting on the Convention on Nuclear Safety after Switzerland had submitted a proposal to amend the Convention. The exact formulation of the security objectives was to be negotiated at the 2015 diplomatic conference, in preparation for which an informal working group was established, which met eight times between June 2014 and February 2015. Germany was actively involved in the work, pushing in Vienna to ensure that the right lessons be learned from the reactor accident in Fukushima and that the Convention on Nuclear Safety be used effectively as a tool to improve nuclear safety worldwide. The Vienna Declaration on these security goals has achieved this. It aims at a dynamic further development of the security requirements, as are already being applied in Germany. Nuclear power plants could now be retrofitted in many countries in accordance with the Declaration's intentions. Whether this actually happens, is the sovereign decision of the respective state party.
The Vienna Declaration requires for the first time that contracting parties report on the establishment and implementation of these in national regulations.
The seventh review meeting will be held in Vienna in March/April 2017.