https://www.bmu.de/ME7999-1
15.12.2015

EU adopts amended directive on nuclear safety

On 8 July 2014 the Council of the European Union adopted Directive 2014/87/Euratom amending Directive 2009/71/Euratom establishing a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations.

On 8 July 2014 the Council of the European Union adopted Directive 2014/87/Euratom amending Directive 2009/71/Euratom establishing a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations. 1

On 8 July 2014, Directive 2014/87/Euratom amending Directive 2009/71/Euratom establishing a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations was adopted. It entered into force on 14 August 2014. In contrast to the 2009 directive 2 the amending directive contains for the first time substantive technical rules in the field of nuclear safety, concerning, for example, the nuclear safety objective and safety culture.

The aim of the directive is to maintain and continuously improve nuclear safety. The nuclear safety objective introduced in Article 8a, which is based on the WENRA safety objectives for new reactors, is intended to be a reference for the implementation of reasonably practicable safety improvements to existing nuclear installations. EU member states are to take appropriate domestic measures for the protection of both individual workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation. There are also now provisions on on-site emergency preparedness (Article 8d). The directive applies to installations such as nuclear power plants, research reactors and interim storage facilities, but not for radioactive waste disposal facilities, which are covered by the spent fuel and radioactive waste directive 2011/70/Euratom.

The directive contains provisions concerning the creation of a legal and regulatory nuclear safety framework, the organisation and responsibilities of nuclear regulatory authorities, the obligations of operators of nuclear installations, education and training for the staff of all involved and information to be made available to the general public. The directive sets out and emphasises the principle of independence for regulatory authorities. This principle states that the functions of the state in licensing and supervision of nuclear installations must be functionally separated from tasks concerned with the promotion and utilisation of nuclear energy. The regulatory authority must be effectively independent in its decision-making on issues concerning nuclear safety. In addition to the self-assessments and accompanying peer reviews of the regulatory and organisational infrastructure and the competent authorities required by the 2009 directive, member states are also required to conduct topical peer reviews every six years starting in 2017. These topical reviews on a safety issue selected jointly by the member states are intended to initiate a continual system of learning from one another.

Background and EU-level legislative procedure

On 26 November 2008, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a directive on nuclear safety. 3

From November 2008 to May 2009 the Council Atomic Questions Group held intensive negotiations first under the French presidency, then, starting in 2009, under the Czech presidency. In the Council Atomic Questions Group's meeting of 26 May 2009, consensus on the contents of the directive was finally reached. The European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee approved the proposal for the directive. After the Council adopted it and it was published in the Official Journal of the European Union, Directive 2009/71/Euratom establishing a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations entered into force on 22 July 2009.

In June 2013, the Commission presented a proposal for the amendment of Directive 2009/71/Euratom based on Articles 31 and 32 of the Euratom Treaty. Before this proposal was made there had been an intensive consultation process between the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG).

The negotiations on the amending directive were concluded under the Greek presidency on 28 May 2014 and the Council adopted the resulting directive on 8 July 2014. It was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 25 July 2014 and entered into force on 14 August 2014.

Transposition of the directive into national law

In the negotiations, Germany was able to achieve almost all its fundamental objectives concerning the content of the directive. Current German law covers some areas of this content, but for a complete transposition into national law the Atomic Energy Act must be amended. The safety objective and the obligation to carry out "topical peer reviews" must be expressly included in German law. The proven structures involving execution by the Länder on federal commission can be maintained with a view to the new provisions in Article 5 of the directive concerning the principle of independence and the regulatory authority being effectively independent in its decision-making. In the negotiations, Germany was able to see that for the implementation of the directive those provisions contained in the comprehensive body of sub-statutory regulations did not have to be set out in laws and ordinances, but rather that the inclusion of the existing authorizations was sufficient. This preserves the ability to react flexibly to new findings in order to continuously improve nuclear safety.

The content of the directive must be transposed into national law by 14 August 2017, three years after the directive enters into force. The report concerning the implementation of the directive must be presented to the Commission by 22 July 2020 at the latest.

1 OJ L 219, 25.7.2014, pp. 42-52

2 OJ L 172, 2.7.2009, pp. 18-22.

3 Council document 16537/08 dated 1.12.2008.

15.12.2015 | Report Nuclear Safety