The UK and Canada on 2 November signed a bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA), which will allow "mutually beneficial" civil nuclear cooperation to continue when current European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) arrangements cease to apply in the UK, Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said. This is the third NCA signed by the UK this year in preparation for its exit from the European Union. BEIS said the UK has now concluded all replacement international agreements needed to ensure continuity of civil nuclear trade following Brexit “ensuring a seamless transition for the nuclear sector in terms of its international relations”. Following the signing ceremony in Ottawa, UK Business and Industry Minister Richard Harrington said: "These preparations have been recognised as gold standard."
BEIS added: "The UK-Canada NCA is the final NCA necessary to meet a legal requirement set in the Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018 to have in place all of the instruments required to ensure continuity of civil nuclear trade with international partners following the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom." The three bilateral NCAs still require ratification by the UK Parliament, as well as two nuclear safeguards agreements signed with the International Atomic Energy Agency in June. This will ensure that, "in the unlikely event” of there being no Brexit deal, they can come into effect at the end of March next year, BEIS said.
In some countries, there is a domestic legal or policy requirement for an NCA to be in place before civil nuclear trade can be permitted. Australia, Canada, Japan, and the USA all require NCAs to be in place to facilitate nuclear-related trade. The UK has had a bilateral NCA in place with Japan since 1998 and arrangements are underway to ensure it remains valid following Brexit.