A new report published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has said that the UK Government’s intention to exit the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) could affect the nuclear energy industry of the country.
Euratom is governed by EU institutions but is a completely separate legal entity from the EU.
Titled ‘Leaving the EU: the Euratom Treaty’, the report noted that plans to leave EU and Euratom may hinder new nuclear reactor development and decommissioning activities, while also affecting energy security due to the impact on nuclear fuel supplies.
Britain’s exit from Euratom will have a significant impact on the country’s nuclear sector, research, access to fissile materials, and will also affect the status of nearly 20 nuclear co-operation agreements entered into with other countries worldwide.
In addition, the country should also enter into new nuclear cooperation agreements (NCA), which would open opportunities for new nuclear trade deals with EU and non-EU countries.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers Energy and Environment's head and report lead author Dr Jenifer Baxter said: “The UK’s departure from Euratom must not be seen as an after-thought to leaving the EU.
“Without suitable transitional arrangements, the UK runs the risk of not being able to access the markets and skills that enable the construction of new nuclear power plants and existing power stations may also potentially be unable to access fuel.”
“With the Article 50 process taking just two years, the UK Government must act quickly to start the process to develop NCAs to enable international trade, for goods such as nuclear fuels and research.”
The report suggests that the government should create a transitional framework that would offer the UK nuclear industry an alternative state system of accountancy and control (SSAC).
Baxter added: “Making these transitional arrangements will be difficult, particularly given the short time-scale, but if done correctly could present the UK with opportunities to speed up the process of developing new nuclear power plants and reprocessing facilities, boost UK nuclear skills, as well as open up the UK to more international trade deals.”
Image: The UK government needs to develop clear transitional arrangements before leaving EU nuclear treaty. Photo: courtesy of Institution of Mechanical Engineers.