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Bodies at European level


At European level, the use of nuclear energy by the 28 EU member states and their related obligations are governed by the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). Council Directive 2009/71/Euratom establishing a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations (as amended by Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom) and Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom establishing a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste are particularly important. Directive 2013/59/ Euratom establishes basic European standards with the aim of further improving protection against occupational, public or medical exposure.


The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) was involved in drafting the first two directives. The members of this group, set up by a Commission decision in 2007, are high-ranking representatives of the nuclear industry licensing and supervisory bodies of all 28 EU member states and the European Commission. ENSREG’s task is to advise the Commission and facilitate coordination and cooperation between the competent national regulatory authorities.


The Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) is another European body in this field. In contrast to ENSREG, WENRA is not an advisory body for the EU or Euratom but was established as a network of Western European regulators in 1999 for the specific purpose of assisting the Central and Eastern European countries to align to EU standards. One of WENRA’s primary responsibilities is to harmonise standards in relation to reactor safety, decommissioning and waste management. WENRA is a platform for the regulatory authorities in the 16 EU member states that operate or have operated nuclear power plants and Switzerland and Ukraine.


In 2007, a further body – the Heads of the European Radiological Protection Competent Authorities (HERCA) – was established in order to improve cooperation in the field of radiation protection through the sharing of knowledge and experience. HERCA develops harmonised positions and regulatory proposals for possible incorporation into national law as a contribution to improving radiological protection at a high level in Europe.


In addition, the EU member states collaborate on matters of nuclear security. “Nuclear security” means the necessary protection against disruptive actions or other intervention by third parties for all nuclear facilities and installations, activities and transports. At present, this also includes acts of terrorism. In 2004, the European Nuclear Security Regulators Association (ENSRA) was established as a European platform for the confidential exchange of information in this sensitive area. ENSRA members are public authorities and associated corporations under public law with responsibility for nuclear security in European countries with civil nuclear programmes. At present, 14 EU member states and Switzerland are members of ENSRA.