EU court supports Euratom

13 January 2003

The court annulled, in part, the EU Council's declaration of accession by Euratom to the International Safety Convention, saying that the council had unjustifiably restricted the scope of Euratom's authority in the field of nuclear safety.

The council had acknowledged Euratom's legal authority only in radiation protection and emergency preparedness information, and denied Euratom's right to intervene in other areas of the convention, such as those concerning nuclear safety, installation siting, and operational safety.

However, the Court of Justice ruled that it was "not appropriate ... to draw an artificial distinction between the protection of the health of the general public and the safety of sources of ionising radiation." The Court therefore annulled the part of the Council's declaration on safety convention accession that concerned Euratom's areas of authority. Its decision does not affect the accession itself. The Court said Euratom possesses jurisdiction under the treaty in fields relating to "establishment of a legislative and regulatory framework to govern the safety of nuclear installations, measures related to the assessment and verification of safety, emergency preparedness, the siting of nuclear installations, and the design, construction and operation of nuclear installations." The Council and the EC will now have to agree on a new declaration that will be submitted to the IAEA.

The decision will boost EC's attempts to set common nuclear safety standards throughout the EU and verify application of those standards through periodic inspections and official reports. The proposed nuclear safety directive would establish a system of nuclear safety standards and their enforcement throughout the EU, providing a legal basis to continue monitoring EU candidate states once they have joined the EU.

  



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