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Backlash over government's Euratom stance


The government has confirmend that it will look to leave nuclear body Euratom, prompting warnings of consequences such as construction delays on key projects from nuclear industry figures.

Alongside the repeal bill, which will convert existing EU laws into British law, the government yesterday (Thursday) released a paper explaining that Britain will leave Euratom when it leaves the EU. This was despite calls from fellow MPs and nuclear industry figures to stay.

Although it makes the government’s intention to withdraw from Euratom clear, the paper claims Britain will be looking to secure easy mobility of nuclear workers and minimal nuclear trade barriers between the EU and the UK.

Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Tom Greatrex said despite containing “very little detail”, the paper shone a light on the complexity of replicating existing Euratom agreements.

“It remains the UK nuclear industry’s view that retaining Euratom membership will best serve the national interest,” he said.

“It may also be that the most straightforward, seamless and sensible way to achieve the government’s stated preferred outcome is through the associated membership the Euratom treaty enables. Exploring that should be a priority in discussions with European institutions.”

Greatrex added that failure to prioritise transitional arrangements during negotiations would risk disruption across the nuclear industry.

On Wednesday Cumbrian MP Trudy Harrison expressed concerns over how leaving Euratom could affect work at Moorside and Sellafield nuclear power plants.

“Our nuclear expertise is internationally renowned and our safety record is exceptional. Ensuring continued membership of Euratom, or swiftly acting to develop an alternative, to be in place upon leaving the European Union or as part of a planned transition period, is vital,” she said.

Readers' comments (1)

  • stephen gibson

    Obviously close mutual cooperation will , as it does with certain other non European countries already, continue. The Centre of European Nuclear Research (CERN) for example, is based in non-EU Switzerland and includes many scientists from around the world, from South Korea to Canada.

    I previously wrote to the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and made a freedom of information request to ask what the UK total or percentage contribution was and likewise what total or percentage of spending when to the UK. They confirmed that they did not record any financial data relating to individual member states, so could not confirm if UK membership was financially beneficial for the UK or not. At face to face meetings they said the French and Spanish largely awarded contracts to their own national companies. Apart from Atkins practically no other major contracts were awarded to UK companies and that we were getting a very poor deal. We must face the hard fact that the EU rules on fair competition have never been applied and we are regarded as cash cows to milk.

    We now need to enter positive and commercially realistic discussions with our European friends that we should no longer be treated as stupid cash cow, but as an intelligent business partner looking to work in cooperation for mutual gain.

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