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The EURATOM Treaty: A Flawed Instrument to Deliver Sustainable Development?

Pamela Barnes

As the European Union (EU) searches for an energy policy that is reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable, circumstances have combined to increase interest in the use of nuclear energy. National government support for the use of the technology varies markedly across the EU 27 from support for new reactor development to programmes of reactor closure. However as the technology is accepted and used within the increasingly integrated European energy market a number of questions are raised which require an answer from all Member States. Amongst these questions are those relating to the desirability of integrating the environmental and social perspectives of sustainable development to the nuclear sector. The rationale for doing so is that as the electronuclear industry has an important part to play in energy provision in the EU, it should also be subject to the same policy objectives as other sources of energy. However the 1957 EURATOM Treaty which established the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) limits the EU's capacity to make such a policy change. The lack of political willingness to make changes to the EURATOM Treaty was demonstrated in the Lisbon Treaty proposals and the decision to leave the EURATOM Treaty unchanged. Whilst the need to make policy changes appears evident the capacity and willingness of the national governments of the EU 27's member states appears to be lacking.

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