UK white paper confirms Euratom exit plan

03 February 2017

The UK government has outlined its position regarding the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) in the white paper on Brexit it published yesterday. In the UK, a white paper is a report giving information or proposals on an issue.

The white paper follows the government's publication last week of a bill that would empower the prime minister to leave both the European Union and Euratom. The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) bill received the approval of Members of Parliament on 1 February by 498 votes to 114 - a majority of 384. The bill is due to clear the House of Commons on 8 February and then be put before the House of Lords. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she plans to start the formal process of the UK leaving the EU by the end of March.

The United Kingdom's exit from and new partnership with the European Union White Paper says the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 "makes clear" that, in UK law, references to the EU include Euratom. The Euratom Treaty "imports Article 50 into its provisions".

"As the Prime Minister has said, we want to collaborate with our EU partners on matters relating to science and research, and nuclear energy is a key part of this. So our precise relationship with Euratom, and the means by which we cooperate on nuclear matters, will be a matter for the negotiations - but it is an important priority for us - the nuclear industry remains of key strategic importance to the UK and leaving Euratom does not affect our clear aim of seeking to maintain close and effective arrangements for civil nuclear cooperation, safeguards, safety and trade with Europe and our international partners," the white paper says.

"Furthermore, the UK is a world leader in nuclear research and development and there is no intention to reduce our ambition in this important area. The UK fully recognises the importance of international collaboration in nuclear research and development and we will ensure this continues by seeking alternative arrangements," it adds.

The Euratom Treaty provides the legal framework for civil nuclear power generation and radioactive waste management for members of the Euratom Community, all of which are EU Member States, the white paper notes. This includes arrangements for nuclear safeguards, safety and the movement and trade of nuclear materials both between Euratom Members, such as France and the UK, as well as between Euratom Members and third countries such as the USA, it adds.

The UK has a "proud history" of leading and supporting cutting-edge research and innovation within the EU. It is an active participant in Horizon 2020, the EU's main funding instrument for collaboration on research and innovation. In addition, the UK has played a major part in developing the main EU space programs - Galileo and Copernicus - which have supported the rapid growth of the UK space sector and contributed directly to the country's prosperity and security, the white paper says.

The UK was a founding member of the European Space Agency, to which it recently committed €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) in research and development over the next four years. The UK has also been a driving force behind European and international research on nuclear fusion, it says.

"As we exit the EU, we would welcome agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research and technology initiatives ... We will continue to be a leading actor, working with European and other international partners, in global efforts to tackle major challenges, including climate change."

The government said the white paper "provides Parliament and the country with a clear vision of what we are seeking to achieve in negotiating our exit from, and new partnership with, the European Union".

On 17 January, May set out the 12 principles which will guide the government on exiting the EU. The white paper sets out the basis for these priorities and the approach to forging a new strategic partnership between the UK and the EU.

The principles are: providing certainty and clarity; taking control of our own laws; strengthening the Union; protecting our strong historic ties with Ireland and maintaining the Common Travel Area; controlling immigration; securing rights for EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU; protecting workers' rights; ensuring free trade with European markets; securing new trade agreements with other countries; ensuring the UK remains the best place for science and innovation; cooperating in the fight against crime and terrorism; and delivering a smooth, orderly exit from the EU.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News