Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


EURATOM: INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA) (7609/06)

Letter from the Chairman to Malcolm Wicks MP, Minister for Energy, Department of Trade and Industry

  Sub-Committee B considered this document and your Explanatory Memorandum at its meeting on 3 May 2006.

  As your Explanatory Memorandum reports, a number of significant difficulties could be raised by Euratom's full membership of the IAEA, which the Commission recognises. How in your view might these difficulties be overcome? You write that "it is difficult to understand what might be gained from such an enhancement of status." Does the Government, perceive any benefits from such a proposal? How likely a prospect would be the removal of the seats of Member States on the Board to accommodate Euratom? Is there as yet any word on which option the Commission will seek to pursue in negotiations with the IAEA?

  Because of the serious nature of the Government's misgivings over this proposal, we will hold this document under scrutiny. We would be grateful for news of any developments in this area.

4 May 2006

Letter from Malcolm Wicks MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 4 May about the above document and for your confirmation that you will be holding it under scrutiny.

  Your letter raises a number of further questions which, I am afraid, the Government is not yet in a position to answer. The Commission's plans have not been the subject of detailed discussions in the Atomic Questions Group (AQG). I am able to report that when the Commission made its presentation to AQG on 3 April the reception from many Member States appeared to be lukewarm. Consequently, it is uncertain whether the Commission will obtain political endorsement for its proposed strategy from the Council.

  Given that the Commission does not yet have a mandate to begin negotiations with the IAEA, it is not possible to set out what the outcomes of those negotiations might look like. We will bear the questions you have raised in mind in future discussions in AQG. I will, of course, write to you should there be any developments in this area.

21 May 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Malcolm Wicks MP

  Thank you for your letter of 21 May 2006, replying to my letter of 4 May. Sub-Committee B considered your letter at its meeting on 12 June.

  We understand that you are unable to answer our questions until more detailed discussions have taken place, and that the scepticism of several Member States in the Council may prevent the Commission gaining an endorsement for this strategy. We would welcome a response to the questions posed in my earlier letter and an update on negotiations, as soon as both are available.

  We will maintain scrutiny on this proposal.

15 June 2006

Letter from Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 15 June, about the above document and for your confirmation that you will be holding it under scrutiny. I am replying on behalf of Malcolm Wicks in my capacity as Duty Minister.

  Your earlier letter of 4 May raised a number of further questions which, as Malcolm Wicks mentioned in his letter of 21 May, the Government is not yet in a position to answer. Member States' formal views were invited at the Atomic Questions Group meeting in June and the response was lukewarm. Following this response, the Commission stated at the July meeting that there was confusion about its intention in this area: they did not propose Euratom membership of IAEA, but rather an enhancement of their status (ie something between observer status and full membership). Member States were asked to reconsider in the light of this change of emphasis.

  Given that the Commission does not yet have a mandate to begin negotiations with the IAEA and has not set out what any enhancement in status might look like, it is not possible to set out what the outcomes of those negotiations might look like. We will bear the questions you have raised in mind in future discussions in AQG. Malcolm Wicks will, of course, write to you should there be any developments in this area.

23 August 2006



 
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