Germany has entered into bilateral agreements with eight neighbouring countries on the exchange of information regarding nuclear installations located in border regions. An extensive network of contacts exists between Germany and Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. Joint commissions and expert groups have been set up with these countries. Annual consultations are held to discuss issues of nuclear safety, emergency preparedness and radiation protection. Additional working groups on nuclear safety and radiation protection respectively have been set up in the context of cooperation with France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In these working groups, information on nuclear installations close to borders is exchanged with a particular focus on the following subjects:
- changes relevant for permits or technical changes to nuclear installations near borders
- operating experience, especially concerning incidents that require notification
- regulatory development of safety requirements, especially regarding emergency preparedness measures in case of major incidents
- general developments in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection
In addition to the cooperation with neighbouring countries, there are a number of agreements with other states. However, the establishment of a commission is not necessarily required. Bilateral memoranda of understanding on the exchange of information were, for example, arranged with Japan and Korea, and an agreement on the exchange of information exists with China.
Special instruments for international cooperation on environmental precautions are the transboundary strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and the transboundary environmental impact assessment (EIA). The EIA was established under the Espoo Convention, the SEA is rooted in the UNECE Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment which was adopted later. These two international treaties have been transposed into German national law by the Act on the Assessment of Environmental Impacts (UVPG).
If a project may have a considerable environmental impact on other countries, the competent authority of the "state of origin" sends an early notification to its counterparts in the other countries. If the competent authorities there are not known, the notification is sent to the Espoo contacts of the countries in question in order to inform them about the implementation of a transboundary participation in EIA processes. In Germany, pursuant to the UVPG, the authority competent for transboundary EIA or SEA corresponds to the authority competent for a similar procedure at national level (for example in the case of authorising a nuclear power plant this would be the responsible Land authorities).
In order to provide extensive information, the Federal Environment Ministry offers an overview of transboundary environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment processes (EIA and SUP processes) for nuclear installations with German public participation on its website. For more information on the processes and details on the public participation, click on the linked pages of the competent authorities.
In 1975, the then most advanced industrialised countries created the Group of 7, G7, to discuss issues of the global economy. The G7 comprises Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Japan, Canada and the US. The Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG) is a permanent body of the G7 dealing with questions of nuclear safety. The NSSG developed from the Nuclear Safety Working Group, established in 1992, which mainly dealt with the safety of Eastern European nuclear reactors of Russian design. In addition to the G7 countries, the European Commission, the OECD/NEA, the IAEA and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have an observer status. Due to the current political situation in Ukraine, Russia's participation has been suspended.
The International Nuclear Regulators Association (INRA) was established in 1997. The INRA comprises of the supreme regulatory authorities of countries with the most advanced nuclear technologies (Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Spain, Sweden, the US, the UK and South Korea). The chair rotates every year. INRA addresses issues of mutual interest and makes recommendations with a view to further strengthening nuclear regulatory authorities worldwide.
The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) is based in Paris and is a semi-autonomous organisation within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Today, 32 countries in Europe, America, Asia and Australia are members of the NEA. The Federal Republic of Germany is a founding member of the OECD and joined the NEA in 1958.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was founded in 1957 as an autonomous international organisation. It reports regularly to the United Nations General Assembly and is obligated to directly contact the United Nations Security Council if a threat to international safety is ascertained. Germany has been a member of the IAEA since its founding year 1957 and is permanently represented on its monitoring and governing body – the IAEA Board of Governors.
The IAEA's focal issues are
- nuclear energy and nuclear applications
- nuclear safety and security and
- the monitoring of fissile, radioactive material (verification).
The international community has established a range of multilateral conventions in the fields of nuclear safety and nuclear security with a view to strengthening international cooperation and setting international minimum standards. These conventions regulate areas such as the protection of international transports of nuclear material, liability, early notification and mutual assistance in the event of nuclear accidents, nuclear safety requirements and safety requirements for the treatment of spent fuel elements and radioactive waste.
As part of its International Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) the IAEA offers to conduct reviews of national regulatory authorities. The IRRS should be regarded as an instrument of reciprocal learning for national regulatory bodies throughout the world, with the aim of strengthening nuclear regulatory infrastructure as a whole and thereby enhancing nuclear safety. In the EU, such reviews must be carried out every ten years (Directive 2009/71 Euratom as amended by Directive 2014/87/Euratom). A review of the BMU took place in 2008 and 2011 (as a follow-up mission). Another mission is planned for 31 March to 12 April 2019.
From 22 September 2019 to 4 October 2019, the first Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) took place in Germany on the request of the German government and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in particular. The aim of the mission was an independent international review of the national programme for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. Germany has thus complied with its obligations under Article 14 (3) of Directive 2011/70/Euratom.