Convention on Nuclear Safety

Convention on nuclear safety — Declaration by the European Atomic Energy Community according to the provisions of Article 30(4)(iii) of the Nuclear Safety Convention

Decision 1999/819/ Euratom — accession to the 1994 Convention on Nuclear Safety by the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom)

The Convention on Nuclear Safety is an international convention which aims to improve nuclear safety worldwide. All EU countries are party to the convention. The Community established by the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) Treaty shares jurisdiction with EU countries in the fields governed by the convention.
The decision approves the accession to the 1994 Convention by the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). It was amended in 2004 to take account of the accession to the EU of new member countries.

Euratom responsibilities

Euratom does not possess nuclear installations as defined in the convention.
The safety of nuclear installations is the main responsibility of the holder of the corresponding licence from the EU country on whose territory the installation has been set up.
The responsibilities of Euratom within the convention are derived from the Euratom Treaty (Title II, Chapter 3) dealing with the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers of ionising radiation as confirmed by the Court of Justice of the European Union (Judgment C-29/99).


The convention seeks to:
achieve and maintain a high level of nuclear safety through the enhancement of national measures and technical cooperation;
establish and maintain effective defences against radiological hazards in nuclear installations in order to protect people and the environment, etc.;
prevent nuclear accidents and limit their consequences.
The convention does not lay down detailed safety standards but represents a commitment to the application of fundamental safety principles for nuclear installations.


The convention applies to the safety of fixed civil nuclear power plants including facilities for storage, handling and treatment of radioactive materials that are on the same site and are directly related to the operation of the nuclear power plant.


The parties to the convention are committed to establishing a legislative and regulatory and administrative framework to ensure the safety of nuclear installations which provides for:
the establishment of sufficient national safety requirements and regulations;
a system for licensing nuclear installations and the prohibition of operating without a licence;
a system of inspection and assessment. Comprehensive and systematic assessments shall be carried out before the construction and commissioning of an installation and throughout its life;
measures to enforce the regulations and the terms of licensing (suspension or revocation of licences, etc.).

The parties must set up an independent regulatory body to grant licenses and to ensure that the regulations are correctly implemented. The duties of this body must be effectively separated from those of any other organisation whose task is to promote or use nuclear energy.

Licence holders must establish policies prioritising safety and must draw up a quality assurance programme to ensure that the requirements are met. Emergency measures must also be put in place, detailing the procedures for informing the relevant authorities, such as hospitals.


Each party to the convention must submit to the other parties a report on the measures that they have taken to meet their obligations under the Convention. The reports are reviewed during the regular meetings of the contracting parties.

Safety of installations

The regulatory body is in charge of granting operating licences to nuclear installations. The convention specifies assessment criteria for each phase in the life of an installation: siting, design and construction, and operation.

In choosing the site, consideration must, among other things, be given to its effect on the safety of the installation and the effects of the installation on individuals and the environment. Other contracting parties in the vicinity of the site must also be consulted if the installation is likely to have consequences for them.

Regarding design and construction, safety measures must be put in place against the release of radioactive materials and the techniques and equipment used must be proven by experience or testing.

Authorisation to operate a nuclear installation is based on safety analysis and a commissioning programme. The management of the installation must conform with the regulations established by the national authorities. Programmes to collect and analyse data must also be introduced.

Each installation must also have on-site and off-site emergency plans to protect workers, the general public, the environment, etc. in the case of a radiological emergency.

Organisational arrangements

Parties meet at least once every 3 years. The European Commission represents Euratom at these meetings where parties report on measures they have taken to fulfil the treaty obligations. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provides the secretariat. for the convention.


Convention on nuclear safety — Declaration by the European Atomic Energy Community according to the provisions of Article 30(4)(iii) of the Nuclear Safety Convention (OJ L 318, 11.12.1999, pp. 21-30)

Commission Decision 1999/819/Euratom of 16 November 1999 concerning the accession to the 1994 Convention on Nuclear Safety by the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) (OJ L 318, 11.12.1999, p. 20)

Successive amendments to Decision 1999/819/Euratom have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

Council Directive 2009/71/Euratom of 25 June 2009 establishing a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations (OJ L 172, 2.7.2009, pp. 18-22)

Safety of nuclear installations

The European Union has issued a directive aimed at ensuring the safety of nuclear installations (nuclear power stations, enrichment and reprocessing plants, etc.). The aim is to protect the population and workers against the risks those facilities present.

Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations.

Council Directive 2009/71/Euratom of 25 June 2009 Directive 2009/71/Euratom came into force on 22.7.2009 and Directive 2014/87/Euratom on 14.8.2014.

The directive establishes a European framework for maintaining and promoting consistent improvement of nuclear safety and its regulation. It sets an ambitious safety goal across the EU in order to prevent accidents and avoid radioactive waste from nuclear installations.

Obligations incumbent upon EU countries

to put in place a national framework for the safety of nuclear installations;
to establish an independent national safety authority, responsible for supervising the activities of nuclear power operators;
to carry out an initial safety assessment prior to construction of a nuclear facility and to re-assess installation safety at least every 10 years;
to ensure workers and citizens have access to transparent information on nuclear installations, both during normal operation and in case of incident or accident;
to hold periodic self-evaluations of their national framework and regulatory authorities every 10 years;
to request a peer review on specific safety issues, to be carried out every 6 years by safety authorities in EU countries, having recourse to the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (Ensreg) and based on the expertise of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA); the first review will begin in 2017;
to plan an organisational structure within their national framework in order to prepare for emergency situations and interventions on-site.

Responsibilities incumbent upon other stakeholders

The permit holder is chiefly responsible for nuclear safety and can in no event delegate this responsibility. S/he is responsible for assessing and continuously improving the safety of nuclear installations.

The directive highlights the importance of the human factor in promoting a culture of nuclear safety through education and continuous training of staff responsible for facility safety.


A framework for ensuring nuclear safety within the EU has been adopted since 2009. After the accident in Fukushima in 2011, the Commission conducted a comprehensive assessment campaign of the risks concerning the safety of nuclear installations across the EU. Based on these tests, the Commission aimed to improve the regulation in force.

Additional information can be found on the Ensreg and WENRA websites.

See also the Commission’s DG Energy site, under the Nuclear safety tab, as well as the Commission’s press release on the new EU directive on nuclear safety and the Council’s press release on the adoption of this directive.


Directive 2009/71/Euratom

Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom

Financial cooperation with non-EU countries on nuclear safety (2014–20)

Regulation (Euratom) No 237/2014 establishing an Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation

It allows for grants to non-EU countries with a view to maintaining the highest possible nuclear safety standards.
It supports the development of strategies for
managing nuclear waste and used fuel, and
decommissioning nuclear plants and former uranium mining sites.
It covers the years 2014–2020 and has a budget of €225 million.


To promote the EU approach for the highest possible safety standards thereby enhancing the safety of non-EU countries’ nuclear sectors.
To eliminate hazards to life and public health and maintain consistent improvement through education, training and sharing of expertise.

To cooperate with safety regulators (the authorities charged with supervising and controlling the safety and security of the nuclear sector) to ensure their technical competence and independence, as well as to reinforce nuclear safety rules. This specifically takes into account licensing activities and safety assessments or ‘stress tests’ of nuclear facilities.


This is based on an annual action programme, set out for each country requiring assistance. This programme includes details such as measures to be taken, projects to be carried out, funding amounts and the expected results.

EU policy on international cooperation

The instrument is part of EU foreign policy on international cooperation. Most rules on its implementation are contained in Regulation (EU) No 236/2014 for financing foreign cooperation strategies. This cooperation is not aimed at promoting nuclear energy itself outside the EU.


Although open to all countries, priority is to be given to those that have applied for EU membership, those that border the EU and those who to abide by international treaties on nuclear safety, such as the 1994 Convention on Nuclear Safety.


Council Regulation (Euratom) No 237/2014 of 13 December 2013 establishing an Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (OJ L 77, 15.3.2014, pp. 109–116)It applies from 1 January 2014 till 31 December 2020.

Regulation (EU) No 236/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 laying down common rules and procedures for the implementation of the Union’s instruments for financing external action (OJ L 77, 15.3.2014, pp. 95–108)

Successive corrections to Regulation (EU) No 236/2014 have been incorporated in to the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

Safety of nuclear installations

The European Union has issued a directive aimed at ensuring the safety of nuclear installations (nuclear power stations, enrichment and reprocessing plants, etc.). The aim is to protect the population and workers against the risks those facilities present.

Radioactive substances in water intended for human consumption:

protection of public health

The directive sets out various requirements to protect the health of the general public from potentially harmful radioactive substances that may be present in drinking water.


Council Directive 2013/51/Euratom of 22 October 2013 laying down requirements for the protection of the health of the general public with regard to radioactive substances in water intended for human consumption

Ordinary drinking water is one way that radioactive substances can enter the human body, causing harm to vital organs. To minimise the risk as much as possible, the legislation lays down parametric values for substances such as radon and tritium. National authorities are required to monitor these and to carry out regular sampling of drinking water at frequent intervals depending on the volumes involved.

The legislation covers all water for human consumption. This includes all water, either in its original state or after treatment, which is intended for drinking, cooking, preparing food or other domestic purposes, regardless of where it comes from and whether it is supplied through a mains supply, tanker, bottles or containers.

It also extends to water used by businesses to manufacture, process, preserve or market food for human consumption, unless national authorities consider that the quality of the water is of a sufficiently high standard that it does not affect the safety of the final food product itself.

The legislation does not apply to natural mineral waters or to water considered to be a medicinal product. These are regulated under separate EU legislation. National authorities may exclude drinking water from an individual supply averaging less than 10 cubic metres a day or serving fewer than 50 people, unless it is provided as part of a commercial or public activity.

When a potential health danger is identified, appropriate advice must be given to the general public of the possible risks and of any extra precautionary measures that may be needed. Action should be quickly taken to bring the water back up to the necessary standard.


Directive 2013/51/Euratom

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