European nuclear industry group Foratom said on 3 April that the UK and the European Union (EU) will need to agree transitional arrangements that will apply if the two-year negotiation period for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is not enough to prepare for the UK’s departure from Euratom (Brexit). The 1957 Euratom Treaty governs the peaceful use of nuclear energy within the EU. “Being part of the Euratom community enables new-build, decommissioning, R&D and other programmes of work to continue without any disruption,” said Foratom director-general Jean-Pol Poncelet. “The UK should comply with the provisions of the Euratom Treaty until new agreements replacing the current ones are concluded.”
Without alternative agreements, leaving Euratom would have an impact on the free movement of goods and skills in the nuclear sector, Foratom said. It could also result in interruptions to regular trade with the EU. Leaving Euratom would not result in the UK industry being less safe because the UK has a robust and well established domestic civil nuclear regulator and safety regime. However, after its withdrawal from Euratom, the UK will need to set up a proper framework to comply with its international nuclear safeguards commitments, Foratom noted. Other key areas that could be affected by Brexit include the supply of nuclear fuels and nuclear research. Euratom provides a platform for R&D covering fission, fusion and the sharing of information and results from R&D. The UK operates 15 commercial reactors, which produce about 20% of its electricity generation. It has plans for 16GWe of new nuclear capacity.