Agreement signed on nuclear safety
Today, following around ten months of negotiations, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Jan Jambon signed a bilateral agreement on nuclear safety. Minister Hendricks commented "I am delighted that we have successfully concluded negotiations in such a short space of time. This highlights how important nuclear safety is to both Germany and Belgium." The establishment of a joint expert commission and a regular exchange of information on nuclear safety issues are at the heart of the agreement.
Hendricks remarked "Although we were not able meet all of the wishes and expectations of the communities in the border regions, the nuclear safety agreement is a major success. The agreement does not envisage decommissioning nuclear power plants in Belgium, nor does it interfere with the competencies of the national nuclear safety authorities. The agreement builds a solid foundation for open and critical discussion between Germany and Belgium on key nuclear safety issues. As of today, this bilateral cooperation is legally binding."
The backdrop and reason for the agreement was, in particular, the return to operation of Belgian reactor blocks Doel 3 and Tihange 2 at the end of 2015. This decision led to great public concern, particularly among those living in the border regions, but also further afield. Following this, Minister Hendricks emphatically called on her Belgian colleagues for an improved, more intensive exchange of information and transboundary environmental impact assessments when the operating lives of nuclear power plants are to be extended.
At the start of February 2016, Minister Hendricks suggested setting up a joint nuclear commission with Belgium, similar to those already established with other neighbouring countries such as France, Switzerland and Czechia. The first meeting of the German-Belgian expert commission will take place in 2017; plans for the meeting are already underway.