Industry calls on Brit-Govt to remain in Euratom to avoid nuclear ‘hard Brexit’

A new poll released today shows that only 10% of the public agree with the Brit-Govt. decision to leave Euratom –  the treaty which regulates the nuclear sector across Europe –  at the same time as the UK quits the EU-bloc.

The poll, undertaken by YouGov for the Nuclear Industry Association reveals 56% of respondents want to remain in Euratom, only 10% believe we should leave the Treaty, with the remaining 34% not sure.

Most respondents consider the Euratom Treaty to be important to the UK, with 75% saying safeguarding checks are important and 72% allowing free movement of nuclear workers, skills and products is important. A further 64% agree investing in fusion research and receiving nuclear materials is significant.

The poll also shows two in five of those who voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum would like to stay a part of Euratom; this number rises to 76% with those who voted to remain.

The UK nuclear industry believes seeking to retain the main features of Euratom membership through a third-party agreement, in negotiation with the European Commission, would best serve the national interest and ensure the nuclear sector, vital to providing continuous low carbon power, can continue to operate without the risk of significant disruption.

Industry is concerned that without continued membership, an agreement on associated status or transitional arrangements in place, there will be significant disruption to building, operating and decommissioning nuclear power stations.

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “Leaving Euratom means replicating its administrative, practical and technical safeguarding obligations, negotiating nuclear specific trade agreements, and ensuring the UK’s continued involvement in Euratom R&D programmes.

“This will be extremely challenging in the remaining 529 days, alongside all the other negotiations which need to take place. 

“We continue to urge the government to explore the options to retain the benefits of being part of Euratom in negotiation with the European Commission. Going to extraordinary lengths to replicate the arrangements we already benefit from is a time-consuming process when there are potentially simpler, more straightforward options to consider.

“While continued, or some form of associate, Euratom membership is the industry’s preferred option, the government’s starting point should be to at least seek agreement on a transitional period, to avoid the increasingly real prospect of a cliff edge exit.”

16 Oct 2017

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