Letter Andrew Duff: Whoever thought, like Dr Glen Plant (Letters, March 7), that they were not voting to leave Euratom in last year’s EU referendum was not paying attention. Euratom is and always has been glued to the EU: membership of the one means membership of the other. Indeed, Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty as revised under the Lisbon treaty makes it explicit that the now famous Article 50 TEU applies equally to Euratom. So in order to safeguard its nuclear industry in both legal and scientific terms the UK must now seek to negotiate associate membership of Euratom. This means accepting the supervisory powers of the European Commission and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over Sellafield, all for the payment of a relatively modest fee into the Euratom budget. Such a specific Euratom arrangement will fit neatly inside the wider association agreement between the UK and the EU, which is implied by prime minister Theresa May’s bid for a comprehensive free trade area plus political co-operation in internal and external security, along with selective participation in EU agencies and spending programmes.
FT 7th March 2017 read more »
The legal logic behind the UK’s planned exit from a key European nuclear group has been called into question by experts who have branded the risky move an unnecessary step in the Brexit process. The Government said it will leave Euratom as a result of the decision to exit the EU because “they are uniquely legally joined” but the justification has been rubbished by experts who say there is no legal reason the UK cannot remain within Euratom while leaving the bloc. Herbert Smith Freehills, the law firm advising EDF on the Hinkley Point C new nuclear project, said the Government’s legal interpretation has created unnecessary risks. Leaving Euratom’s regulatory framework could delay the planned Hinkley Point and Horizon nuclear plants while complicated new bilateral agreements are formed. It could also bring imports of nuclear fuel to an immediate halt, which lead to a shutdown of existing nuclear power reactors which make up a fifth of the UK’s electricity supply. Julia Pyke, a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills and the firm’s lead adviser to EDF, told The Telegraph the risk is “an own goal”. “The balance of legal opinion is that it’s not legally necessary to exit Euratom in order to leave the EU,” she said. Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association and a former shadow energy minister, said the sector has made it crystal clear that it would prefer to maintain membership of Euratom. “However, if the UK ceases to be part of Euratom, then it is vital that the Government agree transitional arrangements, to give the UK time to negotiate and complete new agreements. The UK should remain a member of Euratom until these arrangements are put in place,” he urged.
Telegraph 7th March 2017 read more »
A new group of pro-nuclear countries developing atomic power plants around the world is an economic prize worth fighting for, former British minister Tim Yeo has told MLex. Yeo said the new organization, designed to fill gaps created by the UK’s exit from an EU nuclear-cooperation treaty, would help cut the cost of new reactors and spread British expertise. “We want to minimize the impact from Brexit,” said Yeo, the chairman of pro-nuclear campaign group New Nuclear Watch Europe. “There are some functions that Euratom performs which pro-nuclear countries need performed by somebody,” he said. These include ensuring compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, designed to prevent the spread of atomic weapons, and maintaining a single market in nuclear goods. The UK in January announced that it would withdraw from the EU nuclear trade and safety treaty, known as Euratom, at the same time as leaving the EU. Yeo hopes that an alliance between advocates of atomic energy — including former Communist countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, but also more broadly around the world — could build on many of the roles taken by Euratom.
MLex 3rd March 2017 read more »