Nuclear power represents one third of the electricity production in the EU and it is well known that many people expect that among others its alleged greenhouse effect neutrality might give it a renaissance. However, almost half the EU member states have chosen not to develop nuclear power and some of these member states are now phasing out their nuclear power programmes.


It can be argued that if a conflict of interests exists between nuclear and non-nuclear countries in the EU, it reflects first and foremost a clash of interests between competing industries, namely between the renewables and the nuclear power industry. If this assumption is true, it would imply the existence of a correlation between the share of renewables in a country’s electricity production and the emphasis it puts on the development on renewables and its interest in obtaining a level playing field for RES in the European electricity markets. This would among others necessitate a closer look to be taken at the Euratom Treaty. The question is supposedly this: Is it fair to say that the Treaty – at least in some respects – distorts the European electricity market? And what are the issues that the non-nuclear countries in the EU have to deal with concerning European nuclear policies? In this context, the following is important:


  • Existing legislation in the European nuclear field both on the constitutional level (the Euratom Treaty) and with respect to the various directives. This applies both to a European Euratom revision conference as proposed by Austria, Ireland, Hungary, Sweden and Germany and in the long term to the issues described below.


  • In order to focus more on the most controversial sides of Euratom, attention must be directed to Euratom’s promotional rather than its regulatory aspects, because the Euratom Treaty allegedly contradicts both existing EU-treaties and the new Constitution regarding a common market without competition distortion.


  • Euratom’s loan facility must be investigated and the proposal to raise the Euratom loan ceiling seriously considered. At the same time it must be looked into whether the remaining funds are exclusively spent in support of decommissioning activities.


  • It must be looked into, how much the promotion of European nuclear power is at the expense of research, development and production of renewables in the EU if at all.


  • It must be considered whether it can be assured that the funds to finance decommissioning activities and the handling of nuclear waste cannot be spent to distort EU’s liberalized electricity market. It can be argued that this goal can only be reached if the funds controlled by the nuclear operators are separated from their other financial resources. Hence, it is a crucial question, whether EU legislation can be adopted in order to separate the funds for decommissioning activities and handling of nuclear waste from the nuclear companies other budgets.