The Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has approved a report on Bulgaria’s progress towards EU accession which contains an amendment over the closure of units 3 and 4 of the Kozloduy nuclear plant.

The approval comes before a vote by the plenary committee in December.

The European Commission’s (EC’s) annual report on Bulgaria’s progress towards European Union (EU) membership, set for 1 January 2007, delivered a generally upbeat assessment of Bulgaria’s progress towards meeting EU standards – although the EC warned that unless progress is made in improving the workings of the justice system and in tackling crime and corruption, then it would, if necessary, “recommend postponing accession” by one year when it reviews the situation in the spring.

The report stresses the crucial importance of ensuring energy supplies at a level which will meet future requirements both nationally and in the region; underlines the importance of new generating capacity on a sustainable basis, as well as of energy conservation efforts, and of the Kyoto Protocol targets; and includes an amendment concerning the future of units 3 & 4 of Kozloduy, which are currently due to close by the end of 2006, reading: “The European Parliament appeals to the European Council to flexibly reconsider the closing-down dates of the third and fourth units of Kozloduy NPP until a new generation of nuclear capacities are put into operation in Bulgaria, without detriment to safety.”

The news follows widely reported comments from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) Hans-Holger Rogner, head of nuclear energy planning and economy at the agency, that the early closure of Kozloduy will cause Bulgarian energy sector direct losses of €735 million. Following the closure, Bulgaria will have to halt electricity exports which will boost its losses by another €935 million, bringing total economic losses to around €1.6 billion. Rogner reportedly made the remarks when he handed to the Bulgarian government an assessment report on closing reactors in Bulgaria ahead of schedule. Units 3 and 4 were originally set to be shut down in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

Bulgaria, meanwhile, is expected to ask the EU for an additional €280 million to finance the closure of Kozloduy following criticism of the original agreement to close the reactors by the end of 2006. The cash call comes in addition to the €550 million from the EU to decommission the reactors.

FilesPLIM + PLEX 2006 programme (608kB pdf)

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