Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Sixth Report






Draft Council Decision approving a Commission Regulation on the application of Euratom safeguards.

Legal base:

Articles 77-79 and 81 Euratom; consultation; qualified majority voting



Trade and Industry

Basis of consideration:

SEM of 4 July 2002

Previous Committee Report:

HC 152-xxix (2001-02), paragraph 4 (15 May 2002)

To be discussed in Council:

No date set

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:




    1. The Commission is required under the Euratom Treaty to satisfy itself that civil nuclear material in the Community is not diverted from its declared peaceful uses, and that obligations relating to international nuclear co-operation and safeguards agreements are respected. This requires those in possession of the relevant nuclear material to provide the Commission with information, and to keep records. For its part, the Commission has inspection powers to ensure that the information provided is correct, and it may also impose sanctions where Treaty obligations have been infringed.
    2. These various requirements are at present set out in Commission Regulation (Euratom) No. 3227/76[38], but the Commission says that there have been substantial changes in the global nuclear safeguards regime since the Regulation came into effect to strengthen the system and its capability to detect undeclared nuclear activities. In addition, there have been changes in the wider nuclear environment, and major developments in the technology and practice of information processing. The Commission therefore proposed in the current document in March 2002 that these various changes should be dealt with by repealing Regulation 3227/76, and replacing it with a new, consolidated safeguards Regulation.
    3. The current document

    4. The Commission describes the main elements of the new Regulation as involving:

    • the inclusion of the reporting provisions needed to comply with international agreements for which the Commission has legal responsibility for providing information;

    • clear definitions of the various categories of waste , new Inventory Change Codes, and special annexes for reporting transfers to reflect current practices;

    • a simplification of the content of reports for material of lower strategic value, and a reduction in their frequency;

    • a new reporting format, together with a requirement for electronic recording and reporting.

The Government's view

    1. In his Explanatory Memorandum of 2 May 2002, the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for Small Business at the Department of Trade and Industry (Mr Nigel Griffiths) said that the UK had recognised this as an area of Commission competence, though, as a consequence, the UK (along with many other Member States) did not have either relevant national legislation or a domestic regulatory body. He also said that the UK had been vigorous in its efforts to strengthen the safeguards system, and that this proposal was very much in line with these. However, he also said that the detail of the new proposals would need to be considered carefully to ensure that they would in fact achieve their aim.
    2. Finally, the Minister pointed out that the operators of all major UK nuclear installations were being consulted, and that a full Regulatory Impact Assessment was being prepared. In the meantime, he said that an initial assessment suggested that, for the major operators, costs could amount to between 1 million and 2 million initially, with recurring costs of less than 100,000. The other main costs, probably of the order of 4.3 million over a four year period, and 400,000 recurring thereafter, would fall on the Commission itself.
    3. In our Report of 15 May 2002, we said that the proposals appeared sensible and straightforward, but that, before taking a final view, we will await the promised Regulatory Impact Assessment.
    4. Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 4 July 2002

    5. The Minister has now provided a Regulatory Impact Assessment with his Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 4 July 2002. This essentially confirms the figures given in his initial assessment, and quoted in paragraph 9.5 above.
    6. Conclusion

    7. We are grateful to the Minister for confirmation of the likely costs of this proposal. In the light of this, and of the analysis in our earlier Report, we are now clearing the document.


38   OJ No. L.363, 31.12.76, p.1. Back

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