The Government has let it be known that the UK will withdraw from Euratom, a move that could cause problems for several nuclear projects. The announcement was not released directly but rather buried in the explanatory notes to the Bill allowing the Government to trigger Article 50 to leave the EU.
While Euratom membership is separate from the EU it is under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and it is clear that preventing the UK being subject to the Court is a red-line for the Government in negotiating its exit from the EU.
The move could be potentially problematic for many nuclear projects as nuclear cooperation between most EU countries and third countries such as the USA are underpinned by the European country’s membership of Euratom. Also fusion research is undertaken by Euratom and the operation of the JET facility in Oxfordshire and the UK’s participation in ITER require Euratom membership.
Commenting on the development speaking on behalf of the industry, Nuclear Industry Association Chief Executive Tom Greatrex said, “The nuclear industry is global, so the ease of movement of nuclear goods, people and services enables new build, decommissioning, R&D and other programs of work to continue without interruption. However, if the UK ceases to be part of Euratom, then it is vital that the government agrees transitional arrangements, to give the UK time to negotiate and complete new agreements with EU member states and third countries including the US, Japan and Canada who have Nuclear Cooperation Agreements within the Euratom framework. The UK should remain a member of Euratom until these arrangements are put in place.”