Ahead of the June EU Summit, Eurelectric has called on policymakers to minimise any possible disruption resulting from Brexit on the energy and climate agenda. This is the main message of Eurelectric’s analysis paper “Brexit: EU-UK future energy and climate relationship”, published on 20 June. In this paper, the EU electricity industry sets out its position on what the future framework agreement between the EU and the UK on energy and climate change should contain.

Eurelectric urges policymakers to pursue the close collaboration between the EU and UK and says the post-Brexit collaboration must continue supporting wholesale energy market integration, cross-border interconnection and efficient energy trading arrangements. Any future agreement between the EU and the UK must include a full and comprehensive energy and climate chapter, with focus on the following areas: the Internal Electricity Market (IEM); including the trading and transmission framework created via the Network codes and Guidelines, the Single Electricity Market (SEM), the EU energy and climate frameworks; the Industrial Emission Directive (IED), the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), the nuclear energy sector and the financial regulations that to an extend also frame energy commodity trading. In addition, the agreement should provide clear and early signals on governance, network codes and validity of contracts, as well as governance of current and future contracts.

The paper says Eurelectric believes UK actors should continue to be full members in relevant EU bodies such as ACER, ENTSO-E, ENTSOG, ESMA and ENSREG for the full duration of the transition period and to the largest extent possible, also after this period to prevent any regulatory divergence or oversight that could create unnecessary barriers to cross-border trade.

When the UK leaves the EU it will also leave the Euratom Community. Eurelectric highlights the importance of the EU working closely with the UK Government to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place that preserves current EU and UK benefits, thereby avoiding disruption across the whole nuclear fuel cycle. Any new EU-UK cooperation agreement should cover the following issues:

  • Arrangements to ensure/facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, free and unrestricted trade in nuclear and non-nuclear materials (including fuel), goods and services and access to information;
  • Arrangements to ensure/facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, the free movement of nuclear workers across the nuclear industry in the EU-UK;
  • Review and approval of EU27-UK fuel contracts, including continuation of the free market in nuclear material/fuel and associated products between the Community and the UK, and confirmation of validity of existing frameworks/contracts;
  • An EU-UK export control licence regime that preserves the benefits of the current EU-UK arrangements, including the existing intra-EU cooperation;
  • EU-UK arrangements implemented to maintain UK coordination and cooperation in the development of nuclear policy & regulation; and
  • EU-UK arrangements implemented to preserve to the greatest extent possible international collaboration in nuclear R&D.

Earlier, Nuclear Industry Association CEO Tom Greatrex told a conference in London that the Brexit transition period would be “crucial” to the sector, which depended in turn on whether the UK is able to strike a trade deal with the EU. “No deal is the worst-case scenario for our industry because of the specific nature of the Euratom treaty,” he said. Greatrex also raised alarm bells over the impact of Brexit on the industry despite the steps taken by colleges in Somerset to train local people to work in the Hinkley Point C plant. He said: “We haven’t got enough and we have to grow that capacity quite quickly.”

However some progress has been made on preparations to leave Euratom. On 7 June, the UK parliament passed the Nuclear Safeguards Bill and government officials signed new international safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Department for Exiting the European Union and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in a joint statement the two developments "provide certainty to the civil nuclear industry and international partners" as the UK prepares for its withdrawal from Euratom in March 2019. In addition, the UK recently signed a new Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the USA, the first in a series of new international agreements "ensuring uninterrupted cooperation and trade", they added.