Foratom, the European nuclear trade body, has said the UK should be granted an extension of European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) provisions if new agreements have not been concluded within the two-year withdrawal period.
On 29 March, British Prime Minister Theresa May officially launched the two-year process for the UK to leave the European Union and the Euratom Treaty, by 29 March 2019 at the latest.
A UK parliamentary committee was told in February that the country's nuclear industry will need more than two years of Brexit negotiations to prepare for a departure from Euratom. The country's numerous arrangements with EU member states would each need to be replicated and this could take a decade, industry experts told the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee.
"After officially triggering the process of withdrawing from the Euratom Treaty, the UK should comply with the provisions of the Euratom Treaty until new agreements replacing the current ones are concluded."
Foratom director general
In a statement yesterday, Foratom said transitional arrangements between the UK and Euratom may be needed to give enough time to set up new agreements replacing Euratom.
"Being part of the Euratom Community enables new build, decommissioning, R&D and other programs of work to continue without any disruption," said Foratom director general Jean-Pol Poncelet. "Therefore, after officially triggering the process of withdrawing from the Euratom Treaty, the UK should comply with the provisions of the Euratom Treaty until new agreements replacing the current ones are concluded."
"The new arrangements, post Euratom, should involve the UK, the remaining 27 EU member states, third countries (including the US, Japan and Canada who have Nuclear Cooperation Agreements within the Euratom framework) and international institutions such as the International Atomic Energy Agency," Euratom said.
The trade body warned that, without alternative agreements, the UK's withdrawal from Euratom would have an impact on, among other areas, the free movement of goods and skills in the nuclear sector. "Leaving the Euratom Community may therefore result in an interruption to regular trade with the EU."
Foratom stressed, "Leaving Euratom would not result in the UK industry being less safe, as the UK has a robust and well-established domestic civil nuclear regulator and safety regime." However, having left Euratom the UK will need to establish a framework to comply with its international nuclear safeguards commitments.
Other key areas which could be impacted by the UK's withdrawal from the Euratom Treaty include the supply of nuclear fuel and research on nuclear energy.
The UK government announced in late January the UK intends to leave Euratom in explanatory notes to a bill it published authorising Brexit. While the Euratom Community is a separate legal entity from the EU, it is governed by the bloc's institutions. Foratom said then it agreed with the UK's Nuclear Industry Association "in highlighting that the European nuclear industry's preferred position is to maintain the UK's membership of Euratom".
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News