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Statements in International Organisations


STATEMENT: Fourth Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (Vienna, 14-25 April 2008)

Mr. President,

1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety that are Members of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and of the European Union.

2. Allow me to congratulate you on your election as President of the Fourth Review Meeting.  I wish you and your two Vice-Presidents every success in your stewardship of this meeting and I assure you that you will enjoy the full cooperation of the European Union in your efforts to guide the meeting to a successful conclusion.  I should also like to take this opportunity to express the EU’s appreciation to Dr. Ann McGarry, Chief Executive of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, as Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG), as well as to the IAEA Secretariat for their valuable efforts in preparation of this meeting.

3. At this point in time, 14 years after the first signatures, the CNS has become a cornerstone in international efforts to achieve and maintain a high level of nuclear safety, to establish and maintain effective defenses against radiological hazards in order to protect people and the environment, and to prevent nuclear accidents or limit their consequences. All Member States of the European Union and EURATOM are Contracting Parties to this Convention, demonstrating the EU’s commitment to the application of the fundamental safety principles for nuclear installations.

4. The Convention on Nuclear Safety has reached a broad level of adherence, with 61 States Parties (out of 65 initial signatories). Substantial progress has been made, with 56 national reports due to be submitted to this meeting for peer review on important issues related to the safety of nuclear power plants.  Nevertheless, a number of issues remain to be addressed by the States Parties to the Convention, in particular the key issues to be discussed during the Open-Ended Working Group and efforts towards a broader adherence.

5. In this context, reinforcing the global nuclear safety framework requires adherence to the Convention, full national implementation and the commitment of States Parties, combined with strict enforcement of national regulations, and in particular the terms of licensing. In my short statement I would like to highlight those issues to which the EU attaches great importance.


Reaffirmation of the Peer Review process

6. The EU strongly supports implementation of the concept of the Review Process of the Convention at regular intervals, aimed at steadily improving safety worldwide. The EU expects States Parties to report on implementation of the Convention and on compiling lessons learned from the peer review process, with suggestions for implementing improvements and good practices.


Transparency of the review process

7. In addition to the openness provided by the peer review process, the EU believes that it is important to strengthen stakeholder involvement in the CNS (i.e. nuclear safety authorities, Technical and Scientific Support Organizations, nuclear operators, vendors and buyers, etc.), as well as information to the public and media, transparency and accountability. Taking into account new scientific, technological, industrial and social developments, today’s risks and challenges are not necessarily those we were facing some years ago. In this context, it is the view of the EU that the transparency of the review process has to be adapted to a rapidly evolving environment, in particular in the context of growing interest in nuclear energy in some countries.


Universality of the Convention

8. The EU calls on the 15 Signatory States that are not yet parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety to ratify this Treaty, since responsibility for nuclear safety rests with the state having jurisdiction over a nuclear installation, considering that prime responsibility for the safety of a nuclear installation rests with the holder of the relevant licence.  This constitutes an important step for Member States wishing to embark on a nuclear programme, considering inter alia the obligation on States Parties to set up an independent regulatory body to ensure that regulations are properly implemented.

9. The EU also encourages other Member States - in particular those with plans to start a nuclear programme - to become a Contracting Party to the CNS before they start building their nuclear facilities. This is even more important for States that are about to commission a nuclear power plant. Iran is the only country building a nuclear power plant without being a contracting party to the Convention on Nuclear Safety. The EU calls on Iran to accede to the Convention.

10. Notwithstanding the principle of national responsibility in the area of nuclear safety, the EU recognises the important role which the Agency plays in the areas of nuclear safety and security. The EU encourages the Agency to pursue its technical cooperation activities in the area of nuclear safety and expresses its readiness to cooperate in this field, including for countries considering the launching of a nuclear programme.

I thank you Mr. President.


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Date: 17.04.2008