Energy Council misses opportunity to improve nuclear safety

Ministers ignore European Parliament recommendations for safer standards

(5 June Brussels, 2009)
EPSU has learned that European Energy Ministers are due to sign off on a lower set of Nuclear Safety provisions than that recommended by the European Parliament. The position (seen by EPSU) reveals that the opinion of the European Parliament has been ignored [1]. (. The Parliament had argued that a high level of nuclear safety should be achieved and that therefore the Safety Standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency should be introduced in EU legislation in a binding manner. The Energy Ministers rejected this.

Ministers also blocked Parliament’ position for the Member States to report directly to the European Commission and the European social partners in the electricity sector on issues such as health and safety, training and qualifications, employment and subcontracting.
EPSU Deputy General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan comments: “We are very concerned that Council has not clearly included sub-contracted workers of nuclear operators under the nuclear safety regime. These workers are often most exposed, less trained, and not fully integrated in the safety regime”. He added: “Diluting nuclear health and safety provisions on the basis of cost is unacceptable “
The proposal for a Directive is introduced under the Euratom Treaty. That only gives the European Parliament consultation rights. The Parliament can therefore not correct the position of the governments who protect narrow national interests while nuclear accidents will have cross-border implications. Nuclear safety is a European issue.

EPSU is the European Federation of Public Services with 220 trade unions organizing 8 million public services workers in health and social services, local and regional government, national administration and utilities. EPSU represents workers in all areas of the electricity industry including coal, gas, hydro, renewables and nuclear. Safety for workers and the public is of high importance to EPSU.

For more information please contact Jan Willem Goudriaan, + 32 2 2501080 or

- Read also EPSU issues dominate in crucial European Parliament votes: internal market and nuclear safety

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