AND CONSUMER PROTECTION
GZ 480.1 00/0-lV/A/8/99
YOUTH AND THE FAMILY
Report to the Council of Ministers
Action Plan Austrian
Anti-Nuclear Policy in the European Context
For the Federal Government, the safety of
the population is of the highest priority. In this context especially
the safety of nuclear power plants in the vicinity of the borders
is of vital interest to Austria. Hence Austria has made nuclear
safety a priority issue in the framework of the enlargement of
the European Union.
Already in the European Union's opening statements
at the opening of the accession negotiations on 31 March 1998,
it was pointed out to the applicant countries that their individual
progress in preparing for accession will contribute to the advancement
of the negotiations. This includes advances with regard to "the
objective of a high level of nuclear safety".
The legally binding "accession partnerships"
established with all applicant countries oblige Bulgaria, Lithuania
and the Slovak Republic to implement comprehensive energy strategies
in the medium term - including the closure of first-generation
reactors in Kozloduy, Ignalina and Bohunice. The "accession partnership"
with Slovenia requires Slovene nuclear policy to be adjusted in
line with the results of the seismic risk assessment of the site
of the NPP Krsko.
With respect to the enlargement of the European
Union, clear signals have been given under the Austrian Presidency
by adopting the "Council Conclusions on Accession Strategies
for the Environment" and the "Council Conclusions on Nuclear
Safety in the context of enlargement of the European Union"
as well as by the confirmation of these conclusions by the European
Council of Vienna.
alia, these conclusions stress that nuclear power plants which
cannot be upgraded - which is the case at any rate for the first-generation
reactors in Ignalina, Bohunice and Kozloduy - must be closed down
as early as possible. Further, the applicant countries were asked
to improve nuclear safety "so that it reaches a level corresponding
to the technological, regulatory and operational state-of-the-art
in the Union".
The European Council of Cologne again emphasized
"the importance of high standards of nuclear safety in Central
and Eastern Europe". It stressed "the importance of this
issue in the context of the Union's enlargement" and called
on the Commission "to examine this issue thoroughly in its
next regular reports on the applicant countries, due in autumn
On 21 April 1999 the Government of the Slovak
Republic decided to rescind a government decision of 1994 by which
the operation of NPP Bohunice V-1 (a mark WWER 440/230 first-generation
reactor) was limited to the year 2000 at the latest, to complete
current safety upgrades by the year 2000, then have plant safety
evaluated by the IAEA, and possibly to continue the operation
of these reactors. This decision neither refers to the aforementioned
Council Conclusions nor does it take account of the "accession
partnership" with the European Union, under which the Slovak Republic
must implement a "comprehensive long-term energy strategy based
on efficiency and diversification", including the "implementation
of a realistic program for the closure of the power Bohunice plant"
in the medium term.
Neither have Bulgaria and Lithuania so far
presented any plans for the early closure of first-generation
In addition to this urgent problem of older
reactors, also those of more recent design in operation or under
construction give rise to concern.
The Government of the Czech Republic, by a
decision of 12 May 1999, has approved the completion of the Temelin
nuclear power plant. This decision is mistaken in Austria's view
because the arguments for an immediate stop to the construction
by far outweigh the arguments favoring completion. Given this
situation, the Austrian Federal Government will continue its activities
with great determination.
Against this background, the following
has been elaborated, which embraces the European
level as well as the bilateral level and consists of a total of
1. Nuclear safety
Federal Government will point out in all its interventions and
contacts, whether at the bilateral or the European level, that
it is important for Austria that it be made clear to the applicant
countries in good time and leaving no room for doubt what the
European Union expects from them, because Austria wants to avoid
a situation where open questions with respect to nuclear safety
could strongly impede the accession process. Austria has to
draw attention to the fact that the implementation of the relevant
Council Conclusions is seen as a precondition for accession.
a) that the applicant countries as soon
as possible close nuclear power plants which cannot be upgraded
- as has been mentioned, this relates in any case to the first-generation
reactors in Ignalina, Bohunice and Kozloduy. Appropriate closure
plans and their legally binding character will be called for vigorously
by Austria in the preparations for the European Council of Helsinki
and at Helsinki itself. Hence Austria will without delay draw
the attention of its European partners and of the applicant countries
to the fact that the presentation of comprehensive and convincing
closure plans is an indispensable part of the accession process,
and that it is therefore expected that these plans will be submitted
well before the Helsinki Summit. The submission of closure plans
is a basis for Austrian decisions in Helsinki relevant to accession.
Should comprehensive and convincing closure plans not be in hand
in good time, Austria will immediately call for a debate among
its European partners on the Union's response in the framework
of the accession process for these countries. In this debate Austria
will orientate itself by the dates mentioned in Agenda 2000. In
this context it has to be recalled that the "accession partnerships"
require the states concerned to implement comprehensive energy
strategies - including the closure of the plants mentioned - in
the medium-term (according to Agenda 2000: Bohunice V-1 in 2000;
Kozloduy 1 and 2 in 2001; Kozloduy 3 and 4 in 2001/2002; in Ignalina
1 the technical preparations for rechannelling must not be made;
Ignalina 2 in 2002 in accordance with the NSA-Agreement).
b) that Austria will advocate a continuous
evaluation of the progress achieved by the applicant countries
in the implementation of the aforementioned Council Conclusions
and that Austria will call for independent and comprehensive analyses.
In principle it is up to the applicant countries to prove that
the conditions of the European Union have been met. Likewise it
is the responsibility of the European Commission in its regular
progress reports to assess the progress achieved by the applicant
countries. Nevertheless, Austria reserves the right to perform
pertinent analyses, if appropriate in co-operation with other
member states. The readiness of the applicant countries to provide
sufficient and substantial information should be an element in
c) that Austria will continue, within the
framework of available resources, to offer its own financial assistance
also for the elaboration and implementation of comprehensive and
sustainable energy strategies in the applicant countries, and
that Austria will support the provision of such assistance out
of the community budget.
Judging by the documentation so far available
to the Federal Government, the present Temelin project does not
comply with the "state of the art" in the Union. As Germany has
one of the most advanced nuclear laws, the Federal Minister for
Women's Issues and Consumer Protection and the Federal Minister
for the Environment, Youth and the Family will invite Germany
to join in a simulated licensing procedure for NPP Temelin as
a model case for the "state of the art" required by the Council
of the European Union in order to register clearly and unambiguously
any deficiencies that still exist. At the same time the Government
of the Czech Republic will be requested to support this analysis
by providing the necessary documentation and information. It should
be recalled that after reunification Germany almost immediately
stopped the construction of nuclear power plants of the same design
in Stendal because upgrading them to the West German level would
have cost up to 2.2 billion German marks already then. Should
this review not be able to prove that Temelin complies with this
"state of the art", Austria will immediately remind the Czech
Government, bilaterally and in the framework of the European Union,
"state of the art" is a prerequisite for membership of the European
Union. The same goes by analogy for other reactors under construction
in the applicant countries.
2. EURATOM initiative
In this context - not least in order to underline
the seriousness of Austria's attitude and in order to signal to
the applicant countries that Austria applies the same standards
inside and outside the European Union - an initiative will have
to be pursued vigorously to amend the EURATOM Treaty under the
motto "Phase-in into Phase-out" and with these main priorities:
the Euratom Treaty as a "safety and security treaty",
strengthening the rights of the European Parliament, and
eliminating the special role of the nuclear sector.
The Austrian Federal Government will advocate
the development of common safety standards at the European level.
Where an upgrading to "state of the art" is not possible, binding
and unmovable closure dates should be agreed, under which design
lifetime must not be exceeded. This applies equally to present
and future members of the European Union.
The current more favorable energy policy constellation
in Europe must not be allowed to go unused. With the Federal Chancellery
acting as "chef de file", an interministerial working party will
in the short term work out a discussion paper in a broad discussion
process involving in particular the Federal Ministry for Foreign
Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Science and Transport and the
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Youth and the Family. On
the basis of this discussion paper, the Federal Government will
ask the Governments of EU member states to support this initiative
and will strive for a decision to this effect at the European
Council in Helsinki.
3. Regulations on
competition and subsidies
Since the applicant countries are already
bound by community legislation on state subsidies under the Europe
Agreements with the European Union, the European Commission in
particular - but other member states as well - will have to be
requested to pay special attention to this question.
In the case of Temelin, already existing state
guarantees for loans taken by CEZ AG will have to be examined
to see whether they are in conformity with the EU. The Federal
Government will be highlighting this issue consistently both in
the framework of the appropriate bodies of the Europe Agreement
as well as in the framework of the accession negotiations regarding
the chapter "competition".
4. Internal electricity
Given the obvious intention of third countries
to export electricity from nuclear plants into the European Union,
the Federal Minister of Economic Affairs, in particular, will
apply strict standards in implementing the relevant provisions
of the Electricity Sector Organisation Act (EIWOG, Federal Law
Gazette 1, No. 143/1998). In addition, the Federal Minister of
Economic Affairs, in particular, will analyse the relevant regulatory
framework of other EU member states and advocate effective common
anti-dumping regulations if necessary. In this context the Second
Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament
on the state of liberalisation of the energy markets, COM (99)
198 fin., and the Second Report to the Council and the European
Parliament on harmonisation requirements, COM (99) 164 fin., where
a common trade policy visa-vis third countries is put on the agenda,
should be recalled.
The Federal Minister for the Environment,
Youth and the Family, in particular, will call on the applicant
countries, as appropriate, to ratify the ESPOO-Convention on Environmental
Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context as soon as possible,
and he will in particular remind the Czech Republic of its promise
to do so in the first half of 1999
This notwithstanding, Austrian participation
will be demanded in accordance with the provisions of the ESPOO-Convention
in the expected EIA procedures for Temelin - in analogy to the
EIA procedures for planned facilities for the interim storage
of spent fuel in the Czech Republic.
6. Energy partnerships
Since the "energy partnerships" with economies
in transition in Central and Eastern Europe are intended to serve
common interests and to be of mutual benefit in the long term,
they should be continued consistently. The early implementation
of projects already identified or in preparation is of major importance,
not least because this highlights Austria's readiness to support
sustainable development of the energy sector in the economies
in transition. The Federal Ministries involved will therefore
consistently pursue their efforts in this regard, also by consulting
external experts of proven merit and by involving the Regional
Governments of Austria.
7. Freedom of choice for consumers By amending
the Electricity Sector Organisation Act, it should be ensured
that the general terms and conditions of the power companies will
include a legal right of the customers to determine the source-of
electricity from which they get their supply, in order to prevent
large imports of electricity from nuclear plants to enter Austria
despite this country's active commitment to a consistent anti-nuclear
At the same time there will have to be guarantees
that those customers who do not want to buy nuclear power do not
have to pay themselves most of the higher cost that their choice
One of the
objectives of this Action Plan is to prevent the enlargement
of the European Union from being jeopardised by open questions
with respect to nuclear safety.
the interest of a transparent and predictable policy, the European
Commission, the European Parliament, the EU member states and
the applicant countries will be informed about this Action Plan.
The Federal Minister for Women's Issues and
Consumer Protection and the Federal Minister for the Environment,
Youth and the Family
e q u e s t
the Federal Government to approve this report.
30 June 1999