Foratom calls for orderly Brexit for nuclear industry

13 October 2017

Foratom, the European nuclear trade body, yesterday published the priorities for Brexit negotiations in relation to the nuclear industry. The organisation said the European Union and UK should immediately start negotiating their post-Brexit relationship and, if necessary, transitional arrangements in order to avoid any disruption to the nuclear fuel cycle.

To avoid disruption across the whole of the nuclear fuel cycle, the EU should work closely with the UK government to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place, Foratom said. It welcomes the fact European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) issues are well identified in the first phase of negotiations. However, given the relatively short timescale before the UK is scheduled to formally leave the EU and Euratom, Foratom calls for a rapid start to talks on the next arrangement. If appropriate, negotiations on the necessary transition arrangements should be decided at an early stage to provide legal certainty for the industry.

Foratom said there will need to be a degree of discussion and cooperation between the EU, the UK and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure a smooth transition to new safeguarding arrangements in the UK.

"The EU should ensure that this work happens in a timely manner," Foratom said. The EU should also conclude a nuclear cooperation agreement before the UK formally leaves Euratom to ensure continued access to supply chain opportunities, it added.

It noted that existing export control arrangements between the EU and UK are preserved and trade is not disrupted post Brexit. "They should therefore negotiate a similar arrangement to that which exists currently to facilitate efficient ongoing trade and cooperation between the UK and EU member states."

Foratom said it is also important the EU works closely with the UK to ensure continued movement of nuclear workers. In addition, the EU should work closely with the UK government to put in place agreements to ensure EU and international collaboration in research and development (R&D) continues. The cost to the UK for this continuing involvement could be calculated on the basis of the UK's current budget submission, Foratom suggests.

The EU and UK should also strive to continue to work closely on nuclear policy and regulatory issues. Foratom says there needs to be continued UK engagement on safety and regulation issues via the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association and, if at all possible, the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group. On broader policy issues, there could be engagement through a new UK-Euratom consultative body.

To avoid any disruption to the European nuclear industry, it is important the ownership of special fissile materials within the UK is clarified, Foratom said. In addition, the negotiations must also promptly clarify the rules applicable to existing nuclear fuel supply contracts between EU and UK companies.

"With a view to avoiding significant legal and commercial uncertainty across the nuclear supply chain, it should be made clear that existing contracts for the supply of nuclear material between operators in the UK and Euratom will remain valid and not require any further approvals," Foratom said.

The European nuclear industry is a strategic sector for the European economy, with a turnover of EUR70 billion ($83 billion) per year supporting about 800,000 jobs. Foratom represents nearly 800 European companies working in the industry. Nuclear energy accounts for 27.5% of electricity in the EU.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News