Europe constitutes the priority field of international action for ASN, which thereby intends contributing to the construction of a Europe of nuclear safety, of safety of management of nuclear waste and spent fuel and of radiation protection.
WENRA was created in February 1999 on the initiative of André-Claude Lacoste, who at the time was head of the ASN. He was the first chair of this association. The members of WENRA are the heads of the nuclear safety regulators of the 18 European countries equipped with nuclear power reactors, namely Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.
In March 2003, the WENRA members decided to integrate into their association the nuclear safety regulators of seven "nuclear" countries (having at least one nuclear power reactor) who at the time were candidates for membership of the European Union, namely Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.
The objectives of WENRA at the time of its creation were:
- to give the European Union an independent capability to examine the problems of nuclear safety and its regulation in the candidate countries for European Union membership. In October 2000, WENRA published a report on nuclear safety in the seven nuclear countries wishing to join the European Union, which contributed to the position adopted by the European Council on the high level of nuclear safety required in order to be accepted into the Union.
- to develop a common approach to nuclear safety, regulatory in particular, within the European Union.
To this end, WENRA has created two working groups:
- the first on nuclear power reactors,
- the second on the management of spent fuels and radioactive waste and on decommissioning operations.
These groups first defined reference levels based on the most recent IAEA standards and the most stringent approaches practised in the European Union for each technical theme. After an initial pilot study on the reactors (the conclusions of which are available on the ASN website) had demonstrated the appropriateness and effectiveness of the chosen methodology, a process for assessing national practices with respect to these reference levels was developed. The conclusions of the working groups were made public at a seminar held in Brussels on 9th February 2006.
It was decided on that occasion that each member will present a plan of action aiming to bring its national practices into conformity with the defined references levels for any technical domain in which differences are identified; national practices must be harmonised by 2010.
This work confirmed WENRA's ability to conduct a harmonisation initiative using a bottom-up approach.
Further to the Fukushima accident, WENRA has produced technical specifications defining the technical requirements for the implementation of the stress-tests for Europe as a whole.
Olivier Gupta, CEO of ASN, is Chair of WENRA