Improving nuclear safety and radiation protection


The European Union

Le Parlement Européen, Strasbourg

Le Parlement Européen, Strasbourg

 More than a confederation of States and less than a Federal State, the European Union is based on an original political system that fits into no legal category and has been evolving constantly for more than fifty-five years.

Today, the European Union - with the Treaty instituting the European Community of Atomic Energy (Euratom) and its secondary legislation - is at the centre of the regulatory work in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection.





Euratom treaty and secondary legislation

The Treaties constitute the "primary legislation" of the European Union, comparable with constitutional law at national level. They define the fundamental elements of the Union, including more specifically the competences, the legislative procedures and the powers attributed. Secondary legislation: this means the legislative acts adopted by the European institutions applying the provisions of the treaties. The acts can be legally binding or non legally binding.

Nuclear Safety Directive

The discussions on a directive to "establish a community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations" (2009/71/EURATOM), were concluded on June 25, 2009. For the first time, a legally binding instrument was adopted at a regional level by States in Nuclear Safety field. It was a step forward regarding the assertion of IAEA fundamental principles (for the instance, the primary responsibility of licensees) and recognised worldwide safety requirements (right of information for the public). Due to Fukushima accident in March 2011, on the basis of a mandate given by the Council of European Union, the European Commission presented a revision proposal for the directive in June 13, 2013 and the negotiations will carry on by the mid of the Year 2014.

"Waste" Directive

On 19 July 2011, the Council of the European Union adopted a directive establishing a community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste and of unusable radioactive materials coming from the nuclear industry, medical centres and laboratories.

Radiation protection directives

Chapter 3 of the Euratom Treaty deals with radiation protection and its articles 30 to 39 define the relevant EU competencies. They constitute the legislative basis of the European directives on this subject and they define the Committees tasked with producing and following up the mentioned directives. Numerous directives concerning radiation protection were thus adopted.

Relations with EU institutions

Regular contacts with the European Commission (Directorate General for Energy in particular) serve to keep track of the progress and prospects of the regulatory work in several areas of nuclear safety and radiation protection: transposition of directives into national legislation, functioning of the Euratom Treaty committees, in particular. ASN also participates in the work of the Euratom Treaty committees and groups of experts.


ENSREG (European Safety REgulators Group) is a group of experts from the European Commission and the member states of the European Union, represented by national delegations, split evenly between heads of safety regulators and representatives of Ministries for the Environment or Energy (i.e. two representatives per delegation). ENSREG is involved in all European regulations concerning nuclear safety.