Category Archives: Energy

Energy is what makes Europe tick. It is essential, then, for the European Union (EU) to address the major energy challenges facing us today, i.e. climate change, our increasing dependence on imports, the strain on energy resources and access for all users to affordable, secure energy. The EU is putting in place an ambitious energy policy – covering the full range of energy sources from fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) to nuclear energy and renewables (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro-electric and tidal) – in a bid to spark a new industrial revolution that will deliver a low-energy economy, whilst making the energy we do consume more secure, competitive and sustainable.

European energy policy
Energy policy for Europe, Market-based instruments, Energy technologies, Financial instruments
Internal energy market
The market in gas and in electricity, Trans-European energy networks, Infrastructure, Security of supply, Public procurement, Taxation
Energy efficiency
Energy efficiency of products, Buildings and services
Renewable energy
Electricity, Heating and cooling, Biofuels
Nuclear energy
Euratom, Research and technology, Safety, Waste
Security of supply, external dimension and enlargement
Security of supply, External relations, European Energy Charter, Treaty establishing the Energy Community, Enlargement

Promotion of offshore wind energy

Promotion of offshore wind energy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Promotion of offshore wind energy


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Renewable energy

Promotion of offshore wind energy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 13 November 2008 – ‘Offshore Wind Energy: Action needed to deliver on the Energy Policy Objectives for 2020 and beyond’ [COM(2008) 768 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This Communication aims at promoting the development of maritime and offshore wind energy in the European Union.

Maritime wind energy can make a significant contribution to the three key objectives of the new Energy Policy, which are:

  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • the security of supply;
  • improving the competitiveness of the Union.

Benefits of maritime wind energy

This type of energy has a number of benefits compared to the production of onshore wind energy:

  • production units at sea are larger than on land;
  • winds are stronger and more stable at sea than on land;
  • wind farms at sea cause less concern among neighbouring citizens.

This type of wind farm can be beneficial for the protection of certain marine ecosystems and can also allow other new uses of the sea to be developed, especially offshore aquaculture, which can benefit from the substructures of wind farms.

This energy is also a vast, indigenous, clean and renewable source.

The potential of this type of energy

It appears entirely possible to envisage, by 2020, that its utilisation will be 30 to 40 times greater than the current installed capacity of offshore wind farms.

Other sources of energy production should also be developed on a large scale, such as tidal, wave, thermal or marine current energy.

It is therefore necessary to have a clear legislative and political framework in order to exploit this type of energy fully. It is possible, in this perspective, to develop synergies between the Energy Policy for Europe and the new Integrated Maritime Policy for the Union.

At European level, the existing framework has been supplemented by the third “internal energy market package” of October 2007 and by the “energy and climate” package presented in January 2008. The timely adoption and implementation of these two packages will form the EU’s main contribution to promoting offshore wind energy.

Obstacles to the development of maritime wind energy

The first obstacle to the development of maritime wind energy is the competition that it faces from the onshore wind energy sector and the oil and gas industry for financing, equipment and expertise. Businesses in the maritime wind energy sector encounter difficulties in financing the projects or technologies necessary for the development of this type of energy.

The second obstacle lies in the absence of electrical transmission systems at sea, and in Member States’ lack of experience with integrated spatial planning in the marine environment which may lead to the abandonment of certain projects. Moreover, the potential synergies between offshore projects and cross-border inter-connectors of regional electricity markets are currently not being exploited.

Third, not all of the protected areas in the marine environment have been designated yet.Consequently, it is difficult to define the boundaries of maritime wind farms. It is therefore crucial that Member States should designate the protected areas and exchange information on the environmental impact of wind farms.

Finally, offshore projects are bigger than onshore projects. The energy produced at sea, i.e. in an uninhabited area,will be difficult to distribute on land. It is therefore necessary to extend the interconnection capacity.

Offshore wind farms: the energy of the future

The development of maritime wind energy is a relevant alternative because it contributes to the implementation of clean energies.

Measures must be taken to enable the provision of the technologies and infrastructures necessary for the development of offshore wind farms. The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET plan), adopted in 2008, constitutes the basic framework which will make it possible to meet the main technological challenges facing this sector by 2020. That plan identifies doubling the production of offshore wind farms as one of the key challenges for meeting the 2020 targets. This will make it possible to maintain the Union’s dominant position in the area of wind farm technology.

The Commission highlights maritime wind energy in its 2009 energy work programme and intends to support research in this field. It also encourages Member States to define the role of offshore wind farms clearly in their national plans envisaged in the context of the implementation of the new Directive concerning the promotion of renewable energy proposed by the Commission in January 2008.

The Commission undertakes to encourage transmission system operators and energy regulators to strengthen their cooperation in order to quickly put in place more favourable regulatory conditions encouraging investment in transnational offshore grids, cross-border trade and the development of efficient balancing power markets.

Another challenge lies in integrated spatial planning of the marine environment in order to reconcile the sectoral interests of environmental and species protection with the production of clean energy, and in this context the Commission will also seek to facilitate regional cooperation in the planning of the electricity grid and the planning of offshore wind farm sites.


Electricity from wind represents around 4% of the total production of electricity from clean energies in the EU. Nevertheless, its importance is tending to increase insofar as wind energy, together with natural gas, represents the fastest-growing generation technology and has reached rates of around 20% in some Member States.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Renewable energy


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Renewable energy

Renewable energy

Renewable sources of energy – wind power, solar power (thermal and photovoltaic), hydro-electric power, tidal power, geothermal energy and biomass – are an essential alternative to fossil fuels. Using these sources helps not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation and consumption but also to reduce the European Union’s (EU) dependence on imports of fossil fuels (in particular oil and gas).
In order to reach the ambitious target of a 20% share of energy from renewable sources in the overall energy mix, the EU plans to focus efforts on the electricity, heating and cooling sectors and on biofuels. In transport, which is almost exclusively dependent on oil, the Commission hopes that the share of biofuels in overall fuel consumption will be 10% by 2020.


  • Promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
  • Renewable Energy Road Map
  • “Intelligent Energy for Europe” programme (2003-2006)
  • The Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund
  • Renewable energy: the share of renewable energy in the EU in 2004


  • Renewable energy: the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources
  • Support for electricity from renewable energy sources


  • Biomass Action Plan


  • EU strategy for biofuels
  • Motor vehicles: use of biofuels


  • Promotion of offshore wind energy

Support for electricity from renewable energy sources

Support for electricity from renewable energy sources

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Support for electricity from renewable energy sources


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Renewable energy

Support for electricity from renewable energy sources

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 7 December 2005 “The support of electricity from renewable energy sources” [COM(2005) 627 final – Official Journal C 49 of 28 February 2006].


This communication reports on the progress made in achieving the objectives set by the Member States in the field of renewable energies, as stipulated by the previous 2001 Directive. It focuses specifically on public support allocated to assist the market penetration of electricity produced from renewable energy sources (RES-E).

The existing support schemes cover the following:

  • feed-in tariffs exist in most of the Member States. These systems are characterised by a specific price, normally set for a period of around seven years, that must be paid by electricity companies, usually distributors, to domestic producers of green electricity;
  • the green certificate system, currently in force in Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium and Poland. RES-E is sold at the conventional market price. In order to finance the additional cost of producing green electricity, and to ensure that it is generated in sufficient quantities, all consumers are obliged to purchase a certain number of green certificates from RES-E producers according to a fixed percentage (quota) of their total electricity consumption/generation;
  • tendering systems exist in two Member States (Ireland and France). Under this procedure, the State issues a series of invitations to tender for the supply of RES-E, which will be sold at market price. The additional cost is passed on to the final consumer in the form of a special tax;
  • tax incentives used exclusively in Malta and Finland.

To assess the performance of these support schemes, it is necessary to:

  • take into account the substantial differences between the national, regional and agricultural resources of different Member States. The wider the gap between “generation costs” and “support”, the less the cost-efficient the system is;
  • take into account the effectiveness of the different support schemes. Effectiveness refers to the ability of a support scheme to deliver green electricity;
  • compare the profits from an investor perspective and compare effectiveness so as to indicate whether the success of a particular policy results above all from substantial financial incentives or whether there are other aspects that have had a crucial impact on market distribution in the countries in question.

The different forms of renewable energy affected by this support include:

  • wind energy, for which analyses show that support is too low for any take-off in a quarter of the Member States. Another quarter of Member States provide enough support but still obtain mediocre results. Feed-in tariffs are currently the most effective systems for wind energy in Germany, Denmark and Spain;
  • biomass forestry requires the use of straw, which is taken into account in analyses of biomass forestry. Denmark is the main country using this type of biomass. In close to half of all European countries, support for this form of renewable energy is still insufficient to develop this high potential sector;
  • the biogas sector is closely linked to environmental policy for waste treatment. In nearly 70% of cases not enough support is provided for the development of this technology;
  • the other renewable energy sources to benefit from this support are hydroelectricity and photovoltaic solar energy (especially in Germany). There are several other sources of renewable energy (geothermal, wave, tidal, solar thermal, etc) which, although they receive support in some Member States, have not yet been developed on an industrial scale.

Circulation of renewable energy on the internal market

These support schemes for RES-E cannot be separated from the internal electricity market. The compatibility of the different renewable energy support schemes with the development of the internal electricity market is essential in the medium and long term. Support for renewable sources of energy falls under the Community framework for State aid for environmental protection, whereas at the national level, the rules on State aid can influence the type of support scheme.

The Commission stresses that the market is dominated by one or several power companies that are too often vertically integrated. The existence of distribution and transport grid operators should guarantee all generators fair grid access, respecting the rules of competition. That is why the independence of these grid operators is vital to the proper functioning of the support schemes.

Governments must also ensure that consumers are informed of the way in which these support schemes for renewable energies affect consumers.

A distinction needs to be made between the physical trade in electricity and the green value of the electricity. RES-E is subject to the same restrictions as conventional electricity, including the mandatory disclosure system. This system makes it compulsory to inform consumers of the contribution of each energy source to the overall fuel mix.

The support covered by the Community framework for State aid for environmental protection may distort competition. These economic effects may however be justified and compensated for by the beneficial effects for the environment. Since the use of renewable energy sources is a priority for Community policy, the mentioned framework tends to favour support schemes. Some sixty support schemes for RES-E were already approved by the Commission during the period 2001 to 2004.

Towards a harmonisation of the rules?

Harmonisation between potential and actual development of renewable energies varies greatly among the Member States. In the short term, harmonisation seems unlikely. The Commission regards harmonisation of the rules in this sector as being desirable, as any changes to the system in the short term might disrupt some markets.

Achieving the potential benefits of harmonisation presupposes:

  • integration of renewable energies on the internal market, making the RES-E sector more competitive;
  • reduction of the forecast costs for RES-E to achieve its target share for 2010 on the basis of a harmonisation of systems such as green certificates and feed-in tariffs. These forecasts suppose the elimination of market distortions caused by support for conventional energy sources;
  • creation of a system of green certificates at the European level that would be more wide-ranging and therefore more liquid, making it possible to ensure greater price stability on national markets;
  • a common feed-in tariff system for the whole of Europe, bearing in mind the availability of resources at the local level. This could lower the cost of all RES technologies in the different Member States once installations are no longer reserved for only some of them.

Avoiding the potential disadvantages of harmonisation presupposes:

  • the absence of any significant fluctuation in the price of green certificates to avoid increasing investor uncertainty and holding back the development of RES;
  • costs linked to information on these technologies and keeping such costs low;
  • development of competitive technologies only, in the context of green certificates, as this system favours profitability above all else. Investment in other promising technologies would be insufficient.

Consideration must also be given to Member States that are importers of RES-E. There is a risk that they will not wish to pay the bill without also benefiting from the advantages at the local level to which they would have access if the renewable energy were being produced on their territory. In any case, the exporting countries may not wish to keep an excess capacity of RES if the public is opposed to building future RES installations on their territory.

Recommendations concerning administrative barriers and grid access

Such barriers appear when the project developers or investors disagree over the installation of new generation capacities or over grid access. The Commission has launched a public consultation into perceptions of these barriers and recommends that action be taken in relation to the following:

  • the large number of authorities involved (national, regional and local) and the lack of coordination between them leads to uncertainty in connection with investment. Single authorisation services should be set up;
  • it can take several years to obtain the necessary permits and this can completely freeze the development of the market. The Member States must set out clear guidelines and a precise division of responsibilities;
  • the insufficient attention given to RES in spatial planning, which must be improved by encouraging public authorities to anticipate future RES projects through the establishment of advance planning mechanisms. It is also important that the planning and authorisation process complies with European environmental legislation.

Grid access problems play a crucial role in the increase in RES-E generation. The Member States have largely put the necessary legislative provisions in place whereby grid operators guarantee transport and distribution. In the view of the Commission, transparent rules are required in order to meet and share out the necessary cost of investment in the grid, as the absence of such rules is the source of numerous difficulties.

Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands have established rules of good practice in relation to the sharing of the cost of the various investments that have to be made in the grid. Such good practice makes it possible to implement the “shallow” cost approach, under which grid connection costs are borne by project developments or shared with grid operators. These rules should be completely transparent and non-discriminatory.

The Commission stresses the necessity of developing grid infrastructure so as to be able to absorb the future increase in RES-E generation.

Lastly, the Commission recommends the establishment of a system to guarantee the origin of electricity generated from renewable energy sources in order to facilitate trade and ensure transparency for consumers.

Preference for a coordinated approach

In the view of the Commission, harmonisation is still at an experimental stage and it consequently advocates a coordinated approach to support schemes benefiting renewable energy sources, based on the following:

  • international cooperation which would certainly contribute to the development of the different support schemes in Europe, prior to undertaking partial harmonisation;
  • optimisation of national schemes that are indicative of the ineffectiveness of such systems, resulting in a rise in prices for consumers.

In order to optimise their national schemes, the Member States should take the following action:

  • consolidate the legislative framework and limit investment risks linked to the intermittent nature of national support schemes. The system must appear stable and financially viable in the long term in the eyes of economic operators in order to contribute to greater transparency in market prices;
  • encourage technological diversity even if RES technology appears to be the most competitive at present. Better use should be made of exemptions and tax reductions offered to renewable energy sources;
  • ensure compatibility with the internal electricity market with a view to integrating these support schemes in a liberalised energy market;
  • encourage employment and local and regional benefits;
  • work in unison with national energy efficiency and demand management schemes so as to avoid cancelling out the progress achieved by RES-E with an excessive increase in consumption.


The Commission will closely monitor developments concerning European renewable energy policy. It will draw up a report by the end of 2007 at the latest on the levels envisaged by the national systems for promoting electricity from renewable energy sources. It will report on the drive towards the completion of the internal electricity market and further analyse the options for and the impact of possible harmonisation.

Related Acts

of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market [OJ L 283 of 27.10.2001]


Renewable energy: the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources

Renewable energy: the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Renewable energy: the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Renewable energy

Renewable energy: the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market [See amending acts].



The promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources (RES) is a high European Union (EU) priority for several reasons, including the security and diversification of energy supply, environmental protection and social and economic cohesion.

The Directive follows up the 1997 White Paper on renewable energy sources which set a target of 12% of gross inland energy consumption from renewables for the EU-15 by 2010, of which electricity would represent 22.1%. With the 2004 enlargement, the EU’s overall objective became 21%. The Directive also constitutes an essential part of the package of measures needed to comply with the commitments made by the EU under the Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

European companies are currently among the world leaders in developing new technologies connected with RES electricity. The Directive aims to give a boost to stepping up the contribution of these energies while respecting the principles of the internal market.


The Directive concerns electricity produced from non-fossil renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydroelectric, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment gas and biogas energies. The definitions in Directive 96/92/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity are also applicable to this Directive.

National targets for consumption of electricity from renewable sources of energy

The Member States which joined the EU in 2004 must apply the provisions of Directive 2001/77/EC on producing electricity from renewable energy sources. Their Accession Treaty sets national indicative targets for the proportion of electricity produced from RES (RES-E) in each new Member State the result of which is an overall objective of 21% for the EU-25.

The Member States must adopt and publish, initially every five years, a report setting the indicative Member State targets for future RES-E consumption for the following ten years and showing what measures have or are to be taken to meet those targets. The Member State targets must take account of the reference values set out in the Annex to the Directive for Member States’ indicative targets concerning the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in gross electricity consumption in 2010. They must also be compatible with all the national commitments entered into as part of the commitments accepted by the Community in Kyoto.

Evaluation of national targets and measures

This evaluation will be undertaken at national and Community level.

Evaluation at Community level

At Community level, the Commission is to publish a biannual report based on the national reports assessing the extent to which:

  • the Member States have progressed towards achieving the national targets;
  • the national indicative targets are compatible with the global indicative target of 12% of gross domestic energy consumption in 2010, and in particular with the indicative share of 22.1% of electricity from renewable energy sources out of the total electricity consumption of the Community in 2010.

Should the Commission’s report conclude that the national targets are liable to be inconsistent with the main objectives of the Directive, the Commission may present proposals to the European Parliament and to the Council with respect to the targets, including, if need be, proposals for obligatory targets.

Directive 2001/77/EC is repealed by Directive 2009/28/EC from 1 January 2012. Moreover, from 1 April 2010, Article 2, paragraph 2 of Article 3 and Articles 4 to 8 will be deleted.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2001/77/EC



OJ L 283 of 27.10.2001

Amending acts Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Act of Accession of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia


JO L 236 du 23.09.2003

Directive 2006/108/CE



JO L 363 du 20.12.2006

Directive 2009/28/CE



JO L 140 du 5.6.2009

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2001/77/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purpose only.

Renewable energy: the share of renewable energy in the EU in 2004

Renewable energy: the share of renewable energy in the EU in 2004

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Renewable energy: the share of renewable energy in the EU in 2004


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Renewable energy

Renewable energy: the share of renewable energy in the EU in 2004

The Commission Green Paper entitled “Towards a European strategy for the security of energy supply” highlighted the EU’s high energy dependence. The EU now depends on imports to meet 50% of its energy needs. This will increase to 70% in 2030 with an increasing reliance on oil and gas. This situation presents many economic, political and environmental risks.
In this context, and even if conventional fossil fuels and nuclear power remain key sources of energy, the EU must play its part by promoting renewable energy.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament – The share of renewable energy in the EU – Commission Report in accordance with Article 3 of Directive 2001/77/EC, evaluation of the effect of legislative instruments and other Community policies on the development of the contribution of renewable energy sources in the EU and proposals for concrete actions [COM(2004) 366 final – not published in the Official Journal].


This Communication assesses the development of renewable energy in the European Union. It serves three purposes:

  • to implement the provisions of Directive 2001/77/EC under which the Commission is required to make a formal report evaluating the progress made by EU15 towards achieving national targets for 2010 for renewable energy sources;
  • to assess the prospects for achieving the target of 12% of overall energy consumption being produced from renewable energy in EU15 in 2010;
  • to put forward proposals for concrete actions at national and Community level to ensure the EU’s renewable energy targets are achieved in 2010.

In order to promote progress, since 2000 the EU has, in a legislative framework, set two indicative targets for renewable energy:

  • to increase the share of electricity generated by renewable energy to 22% in 2010 for EU15 (compared with 14% in 2000);
  • to increase the share of biofuels in diesel and petrol used for transport to 5.75% in 2010 (compared with 0.6% in 2002).

The ten new Member States of the EU are obliged to implement the provisions of Directive 2001/77/EC on the production of electricity from renewable energy sources. To this end, indicative national targets for the share of electricity from renewable energy in each new Member State are set out in the Accession Treaty. These targets mean that the collective target for EU25 is 21%.

Commission Report on progress made at national level

Pursuant to Directive 2001/77/EC, all the Member States have adopted national targets on the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources. With the measures that have been put in place, the Commission estimates that the share of renewable energy sources in EU15 is on course to reach 10% in 2010.

However, it is currently difficult to predict whether the policies carried out and the measures adopted in the EU will enable these targets to be reached by 2010. If the current trend continues, the rate of consumption of electricity produced from renewable energy in 2010 can still be extrapolated to between 18 and 19%.

According to the report, the situation varies considerably from one Member State to another. In general, countries can be divided into three groups having made different amounts of progress as regards renewable energy:

  • Germany, Denmark, Spain and Finland have implemented an energy policy which should enable them to reach their national targets;
  • Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden have begun adopting policies and measures which would also allow them to achieve their national targets;
  • Greece and Portugal must improve their policies since these will not enable them to reach their targets.

Information is not available for Italy and Luxembourg. The situation in the new Member States will undergo an initial evaluation in 2006.

In terms of different sources of renewable energy used for electricity production, it seems that the EU should concentrate on developing wind, solar and biomass technologies.

  • Wind energy: the European wind industry has 90% of the world equipment market. Germany, Spain and Denmark alone account for 84% of European production capacity.
  • Biomass: the development of biomass technologies is hampered by the lack of policy coordination and insufficient funding. Only Denmark, Finland and the United Kingdom are experiencing significant growth rates for this energy source. However, in most of the new Member States there is a sound potential for the use of biomass to generate both electricity and heat.
  • Photovoltaicselectricity (solar): photovoltaic output is still limited; however, this energy form could in the long term be developed to a greater extent in the EU. This will only be possible if a reliable political framework is created allowing companies in the photovoltaic sector to make their investments profitable.

Supporting programmes and Member State actions

Over the last two years, Member States have implemented new policies in the field of renewable energy. Legal frameworks are more structured and financial conditions have become clearer. In this respect, the Community has only limited means for funding renewable energies. The following actions were undertaken:

  • (2003-2006): The “Intelligent Energy” programme is intended to improve energy efficiency (SAVE actions), to promote new and renewable energy sources (Altener actions), to support initiatives tackling the energy aspects of transport (STEER) and to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency in developing countries (Coopener);
  • (2002-2006): The programme focuses on sustainable development and the knowledge-based economy. It concentrates on five research priorities: cost-effective supply of renewable energies, large-scale integration of renewable energy, eco-buildings, polygeneration and alternative motor fuels.

Energy efficiency is as important as renewable energy in increasing security of energy supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy policy began by setting an overall target (the 12% target).

In order to achieve this target, the Member States of the EU are required to promote biofuels and the use of renewable energy in heating systems. The fate of biofuels remains heavily influenced by tax exemptions. To date, seven Member States have either completely or partially exempted biofuels from taxes under European legislation: Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

Biofuels are relatively expensive, although the additional costs which they incur are justified by benefits across several policy fields.

More effort must be put into using renewable energy for heating. This sector remains highly dominated by traditional biomass use (fuel wood). And yet heat produced by solar energy and the biogas sector has the potential for growth and development. Supporting policies are also needed to make the use of wood much more profitable and to promote other forms of biomass.

New initiatives for increased investment in renewable energy: new initiatives

According to a 2003 report, between EUR 10 to15 billion will need to be invested each year in order for 12% of energy in the EU to be produced from renewable sources in 2010. Over time, the development of each energy source has benefited from substantial public funding and risk support from Member States. Member States have different means at their disposal to support renewable energy sources, such as electricity feed-in tariffs, green certificates, market-based mechanisms, tax exemptions etc.

Supplementary action could be explored on the following fronts:

  • the establishment of a new financial instrument which could be tailored to accommodate the diversity and specificity of the renewables and energy efficiency sectors. This instrument should support the first market applications of technologies of European relevance and could be the main component of the successor to the current “Intelligent Energy-Europe” programme;
  • the future “Intelligent Energy-Europe” programme should also boost support for action at local and regional level. The aim is to enable Europeans to make informed decisions about energy and to help remove non-technological barriers to the use of clean energy;
  • strengthening public support for research and technological development in renewables.

The other measures planned are:

  • a Community plan for biomass: by the end of 2005, the Commission will put forward a coordinated biomass plan with a clear approach to securing adequate supplies of biomass through European, national and regional/local action in the fields of energy, agriculture, waste, forestry, industry, rural development and the environment;
  • developing renewable energy in heating: the Community has already adopted directives on the energy performance of buildings and cogeneration. The Commission will bring forward further initiatives to accelerate the fulfilment of the potential of three key technologies (heating through efficient use of biomass, solar energy and geothermal energy);
  • offshore wind policy: the Commission will review the obstacles and objections that may block the development of offshore wind energy as well as the environmental requirements which need to be met. It will also support research and development to improve turbine technology and the stability of the grid in order to increase the penetration of wind energy to over 20%;
  • electricity from solar energy: the EU needs continued, targeted RTD funding to develop increasingly pollution-free production technologies, such as solar thermal electricity for which some promising pilot projects which have just been launched in southern Europe;
  • using major Community financing instruments: from 2004 onwards, the Commission intends to place special emphasis on the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency by using the EU’s structural and cohesion funds;
  • placing biofuels on the market: Directive 98/70/EC on fuel quality lays down specifications which limit the blending of biofuels for petrol and diesel. Member States may require each company to place a given quantity of biofuels on their national market, but may not require that all fuel sold be blended with biofuels;
  • timely data: official data on the contribution of renewable energy sources is currently available about 18 months after the end of the year in question. The Commission will make data available more quickly.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament –[COM(2006) 848 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Directive 2006/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on energy end-use efficiency and energy services [Official Journal L 191 of 22.7.2005]

Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2006 on establishing a framework for the setting of eco-design requirements for energy-using products and amending Council Directive 92/42/EEC [Official Journal L 114 of 22.7.2005].

Directive 2004/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 on the promotion of cogeneration based on a useful heat demand in the internal energy market and amending Directive 92/42/EEC [Official Journal L 52 of 21.02.2004].

Directive 2003/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2003 on the promotion of the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels for transport [Official Journal L 123 of 17.05.2003].

Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity [Official Journal L 283 of 31/10/2003].

Directive 2002/91/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2002 on the energy performance of buildings [Official Journal L 1 of 04.01.2003].

Regulation (EC) No 2422/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 November 2001 on a Community energy efficiency labelling programme for office equipment [Official Journal L 332 of 15.12.2001].

Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market [Official Journal L 283 of 27.10.2001].

Directive 2000/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 September 2000 on energy efficiency requirements for ballasts for fluorescent lighting [Official Journal L 279 of 01.11.2000].


Nuclear Illustrative Programme

Nuclear Illustrative Programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Nuclear Illustrative Programme


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Nuclear Illustrative Programme

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 4 October 2007 entitled: ‘Nuclear Illustrative Programme’ [COM(2007) 565 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The nuclear illustrative programmes aim to provide information on nuclear energy in the European Union (EU), the objectives adopted by the Member States for nuclear power production and the investment required to achieve them.

Status of nuclear power in Europe and the world

The EU is the world’s largest producer of nuclear electricity (944.2 TWh(e) in 2005). Around a third of the electricity and 15 % of the energy consumed in the EU comes from nuclear power plants. There were 443 nuclear reactors for electricity production in the world in 2006, providing 15 % of the world’s electricity. At the end of 2006, the EU-27 had 152 reactors (146 from January 2007) in 15 Member States and the average age of these plants was around 25 years, with a lifespan of 40 years in general. Decisions relating to renewal of European nuclear capacity or the extension of the life of certain plants must therefore be made in the next few years, given the time required for construction of new reactors.

Several countries outside the EU have declared their intention to construct new nuclear power plants, in particular China, South Korea, the United States, India, Japan and Russia. Within the EU the situation is very diverse: Bulgaria, France, Slovakia and Finland have decided to build new nuclear reactors; several countries have reopened the debate on the possibility of extending operation of existing plants or replacing them (the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Lithuania (‘Baltic States’ project) and the United Kingdom amongst others); finally, Belgium, Germany and Spain have gone down the route of gradually abandoning or limiting nuclear power. Since 1997, the Commission has been notified of 19 investment projects.

Advantages of the use of nuclear power

The Commission considers that nuclear power can contribute to the diversification and the security of the energy supply for a number of reasons, in particular the availability and distribution of nuclear fuel (natural uranium), the limited impact of price variations for this fuel on plant operating costs and the existence of market supervision for nuclear materials for peaceful use.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), the nuclear electricity sector is competitive compared with electricity generation from fossil fuels. The competitiveness of this sector is also strengthened by the significant increase in the cost of other fuels. However, the liberalised electricity markets cannot guarantee price stability, which may lead public authorities to take steps to reduce the risk for investors. The nuclear power sector is marked by high construction costs, while the operating costs are lower than for other sources of electricity. In addition, other features of this sector have a bearing on costs and investment risk, such as plant size and building plants to a similar design.

The nuclear power industry gives off low CO2 emissions and is therefore an interesting option for the fight against climate change. At present, this sector is the largest source of low CO2 emission energy in Europe.

Management of the risks associated with nuclear power

The public’s perception of the nuclear sector is a vital factor in the acceptability and future of nuclear power production. This requires the public to have access to reliable information and to be involved in a transparent decision-making process. The EU is already committed to managing risk associated with nuclear power and it envisages strengthening its actions further.

The EU also acts to guarantee nuclear safety: it makes sure that international agreements on the subject are applied and makes a financial contribution to improving nuclear safety, both within its borders, in particular following the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, and in third countries.

On the subject of radioactive waste, the vast majority is low level short-lived waste, for which strategies are implemented on an industrial scale in almost all the States with nuclear power plants. The disposal of high level long-lived waste is notably influenced by social factors, in particular the choice of final disposal sites and public acceptance of this choice. Research also focuses on techniques for reducing the volume or life of radioactive waste or long-lived components.

Decommissioning of installations is a complex and costly operation that is likely to involve around a third of plants currently in operation by 2025. It is therefore necessary to have sufficient financial resources, potentially from separate funds. The Commission emphasises the fact that the actual cost for decommissioning must, in the end, be borne by the operators.

In relation to radiological protection, the Commission states that exposure of those working in the nuclear industry and radioactive waste from nuclear industries have decreased significantly, while exposure in the medical field or to natural sources of radiation could be reduced further. Major progress has also been made in terms of preparation for emergencies, exchange of information, food controls and preventing the loss or misappropriation of radioactive sources.

European action on the subject of nuclear energy

The Euratom Treaty is the legal basis for the regulatory framework laying down far reaching obligations and competences in the nuclear field, particularly on the subject of research as well as controls, security and nuclear safety.

The Commission has adopted several proposals on nuclear safety in order to harmonise the work of national authorities.

It has also launched a European programme for critical infrastructure protection.

European research plays a vital role in the nuclear field. It is currently carried out under the 7th Euratom framework programme, in particular through the creation of technological platforms and with a focus on nuclear fission and innovative technology.

For the future, the Commission suggests that discussions cover, amongst other things, the recognition of common reference levels, the formation of a high-level group for safety and management of radioactive waste, the introduction of national radioactive waste management plans, harmonisation of strategies on decommissioning funds, and the creation of a harmonised system of liability and financial mechanisms in the event of damage caused by a nuclear accident.


The obligation to draw up nuclear illustrative programmes is laid down in Article 40 of the Euratom Treaty.

This nuclear illustrative programme was first presented as part of the re-examination of European energy policy at the start of 2007 (‘energy package’). The final version of the programme, adopted in October 2007, takes account of the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee, to which the preliminary version was presented, certain observations from the European Parliament, and additional information provided by the Member States (Annex 2).

Related Acts

Commission Decision of 17 July 2007 on establishing the European High Level Group on Nuclear Safety and Waste Management (2007/530/Euratom) [Official Journal L 195 of 27 July 2007].
The High Level Group was established following the Commission’s presentation of the illustrative nuclear programme in January 2007. It has the task of progressively developing common understanding and eventually additional European rules in the fields of nuclear safety the safety of the management of waste.

Communication from the Commission of 10 January 2007 ‘Nuclear Illustrative Programme’ presented under Article 40 of the Euratom Treaty for the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee [COM(2006) 844 final – Official Journal C 138 of 22 June 2007].

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2007/513/Euratom of 10 July 2007 approving the accession of the European Atomic Energy Community to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities.


The new Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities is aimed at ensuring effective physical protection during the use, storage or transport of materials used for peaceful purposes, as well as preventing and fighting crime associated with this material and these facilities. It is based on the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), to which all the Member States of European Union (EU) are party.

It is the task of each State that is party to the convention to establish and implement measures to guarantee this effective protection to prevent, in particular, the theft or disappearance of nuclear material for which it is responsible, as well as sabotage of nuclear facilities on its territory. The Euratom Treaty is broader in that it states that Member States must prevent any misappropriation of nuclear material for purposes other than those for which it is intended.

In implementation of the Convention, the States that are party to the Convention must respect a certain number of basic principles, in particular the principles of responsibility of the State and licence-holders, of a culture of security, insurance and confidentiality.

The contracting States must ensure that the nuclear material they import, export or accept in transit on their territory is protected in accordance with the applicable safety level.

The contracting States must designate a competent authority responsible for the application of the Convention, as well as a point of contact, and give this information to the other Member States directly or through the intermediary of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Furthermore, they must cooperate in the event of theft, sabotage or risk of theft or sabotage. This cooperation in particular takes the form of an exchange of information, while respecting the confidentiality of this information vis-à-vis third parties.

The contracting States must apply appropriate penalties to certain infringements, in line with their severity. In particular, it is punishable to act without authorisation in a way that causes or is likely to cause death or serious injury, theft of nuclear material, sabotage of a nuclear installation, the threat of using nuclear material to cause death or serious injury of a third party or cause significant damage to property; attempts to commit one of these acts, involvement in such acts and organisation thereof are also punishable.

Any contracting State has jurisdiction for infringements committed on its territory or on board a vessel or aircraft registered in the said State and when the person presumed to have committed the infringement is a native of the said State. These infringements are grounds for extradition between the contracting States, who must also provide each other with the most extensive judicial assistance in the event of these infringements. Political motives for the infringement are not a reason for refusing extradition or mutual judicial assistance.

The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) was adopted in 1979 and entered into force in 1987. It was amended in 2005 at a conference held with a view to strengthening its provisions. A conference for review of the amended convention must be organised 5 years after entry into force of the amendment agreed in 2005.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2007/513/Euratom 10.7.2007 OJ L 190, 21.7.2007

Operation and efficiency of facilities for monitoring the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007

Operation and efficiency of facilities for monitoring the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Operation and efficiency of facilities for monitoring the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Operation and efficiency of facilities for monitoring the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007

This report refers to activities that took place between 1990 and 2007 to verify the operation and efficiency of national installations for monitoring levels of radioactivity in the air, water and soil.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 20 December 2007: Application of Article 35 of the Euratom Treaty. Verification of the operation and efficiency of facilities for continuous monitoring of the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007 [COM (2007) 847 final – not published in the Official Journal].


Under article 35 of the Euratom Treaty, Member States must set up facilities to monitor the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil and compliance with basic standards as regards the health and safety of members of the public and workers. Furthermore, the Commission has the right of access to those facilities to verify that they are operating effectively.

Up until the end of the 1980s, verification activities were not carried out on a frequent basis. Following the accident at Chernobyl, the Commission announced its intention to increase the number of verifications. 23 verifications were performed between 1990 and 2003. Since 2004, verifications have become systematic, with priority being given to new Member States and to more vulnerable facilities. As a result, between 2004 and 2007, the Commission performed 25 verifications across all Member States. These verifications were carried out in reprocessing plants, nuclear power plants, research institutions, NORM (naturally occurring radioactive materials) facilities, hospitals and an old uranium mine as well as in national surveillance networks.

Verifications can refer as much to environmental radioactivity monitoring facilities in the strict sense as to facilities necessary for monitoring discharges to assess their impact on the public exposed and, depending on the case, on an area around a specific site or on the entire or a part of the territory of Member States. Verification results in a technical confirmation report which provides an overview of requirements and arrangements made to monitor the level of radioactivity and to assess the impact of discharges and also in a report summarising the main findings of the verifications.

These verifications, particularly with regard to the overall quality of facilities and laboratories, have resulted in the Commission observing the need to strengthen the monitoring function of the competent authority, storage and sample-taking programmes. A single verification exercise in 2002 produced unsatisfactory results overall: this concerned a research reactor used without authorisation and with no regulatory control, which resulted in the Commission initiating infringement proceedings.

According to the communication, between five and seven verifications are completed each year. The Commission considers that the frequency of visits to key plants should be increased.

Related Actsâ

Commission Communication: Verification of environmental radioactivity monitoring facilities under the terms of Article 35 of the Euratom Treaty – Practical arrangements for the conduct of verification visits in Member States [Official Journal C 155, 4.7.2006].

Shipments of radioactive substances

Shipments of radioactive substances

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Shipments of radioactive substances


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Shipments of radioactive substances

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (Euratom) No 1493/93 of 8 June 1993 on shipments of radioactive substances between Member States.


In accordance with Directive Directive 96/29 Euratom each Member State must make it compulsory to report activities which involve a hazard arising from ionising radiation. In the light of possible dangers, activities are subject to prior authorisation in certain cases decided upon by each Member State.

Member States have consequently set up national systems in order to meet the requirements of Directive 96/29/Euratom.

Shipments of radioactive waste between Member States and into and out of the Community are subject to the specific measures laid down by Directive 2006/117. Each Member State must ensure that its own radioactive waste is properly managed.

The removal of internal border controls in the Community, as from 1 January 1993, has deprived the competent authorities of the Member States of information previously received through controls relating to shipments of radioactive substances. It is, however, important that the competent authorities concerned receive the same level of information as before in order to continue to implement their controls for radiation protection purposes.

This Regulation applies to shipments, between Member States, of sealed sources and other relevant sources, whenever the quantities and concentrations exceed the levels laid down in Article 3.2 (a) and (b) of Directive 96/29/Euratom.

In the case of nuclear materials, each Member State carries out all necessary controls, within its own territory, in order to ensure that each consignee of such materials shipped from another Member State complies with the national provisions implementing Article 3 of Directive 96/29/Euratom.

The Regulation defines a “sealed source” as a source of ionising radiation consisting of radioactive substances firmly incorporated in solid and effectively inactive materials, or sealed in an inactive container of sufficient strength to prevent, under normal conditions of use, any dispersion of radioactive substances. The Regulation also refers to “nuclear materials” as the special fissile materials, the source materials and the ores as defined in the Euratom Treaty.

Controls of shipments of sealed sources or other relevant sources between Member States under Community or national law for the purpose of radiation protection must be performed as part of the control procedures applied in a non-discriminatory manner throughout the territory of the Member State.

A holder of sealed sources who wishes to carry out a shipment of certain substances provided for by the Directive must obtain a prior written declaration by the consignee of these substances, using the standard documents, to the effect that he has complied with all applicable provisions implementing Article 3 of Directive 96/29/Euratom and with the relevant national requirements for safe storage, use or disposal of that class of source.

This declaration must be sent by the consignee to the competent authority of the Member State to which the shipment is to be made, which must confirm with a stamp that it has taken note of the declaration. This document must then be sent by the consignee to the holder of the substances.

The declaration may refer to more than one shipment, provided that:

  • the sealed sources to which the declaration relates have essentially the same physical and chemical characteristics;
  • the sealed sources to which it relates do not exceed the levels of activity set out in the declaration;
  • the shipments are to be made from the same holder to the same consignee and involve the same competent authorities.

The declaration is valid for a period of not more than three years from the date of stamping by the competent authority, in accordance with the procedure described above.

A holder of sealed sources and other relevant sources who has carried out a shipment of such sources, or arranged for such a shipment to be carried out, must provide the competent authorities in the Member State of destination with certain information within 21 days of the end of each calendar quarter. This information must relate to deliveries during the quarter, and must include:

  • the names and addresses of consignees;
  • the total activity per radionuclide delivered to each consignee and the number of such deliveries made;
  • the highest single quantity of each radionuclide delivered to each consignee;
  • the type of substance (sealed source or other relevant source).

Nothing in this Regulation affects existing national provisions and international agreements on the transport and transit of radioactive material, or the obligations and rights resulting from Directive 2006/117/Euratom.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (Euratom) No 1493/93


OJ L 148, 19.6.1993

Related Acts

Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom of 20 November 2006 on the supervision and control of shipments ofradioactive waste and spent fuel [Official Journal L 337, 20.11.2006].
The European Union has a system of prior authorisation for all shipments of radioactive waste in order to provide greater protection against the dangers of ionising radiation. This system was established in 1992 and modified significantly in 2006 by a directive, which seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  • to maintain consistency with the latest Euratom Directives, including Directive 96/29/Euratom, which it supplements, and Directive 2003/122/Euratom, and with the international conventions;
  • to clarify the procedure (amending and adding definitions, removing inconsistencies, simplifying the procedure between Member States, clarifying the linguistic arrangements, etc.);
  • to extend the application of the system to include spent fuel, whether or not it is intended for reprocessing.

Safeguarding nuclear materials

Safeguarding nuclear materials

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Safeguarding nuclear materials


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Safeguarding nuclear materials

To establish a system of safeguards enabling the Commission to satisfy itself that source materials and nuclear products are used exclusively for the uses declared by their users.

2) Document or Iniciative

Commission Regulation (Euratom) No 3227/76 of 19 October 1976 concerning the application of the provisions on Euratom safeguards [Official Journal L 363 of 31.12.1976].

Amended by the following acts:

Commission Regulation (Euratom) No 220/90 of 26 January 1990 [Official Journal L 22 of 27.01.1990];
Commission Regulation (Euratom) No 2130/93 of 27 July 1993 [Official Journal L 191 of 31.07.1993].

3) Summary


Chapter 7 of the Euratom Treaty establishes a safeguard system designed to ensure that civil nuclear materials are not diverted from the civil uses for which they are intended, as declared by operators of nuclear installations.

Pursuant to Article 81 of the Euratom Treaty, the Commission may send inspectors into the territories of Member States and, under Article 82, it also has the power to impose sanctions on operators who have infringed safeguard requirements.

The safeguard system must also ensure that Member States fulfil the undertakings concerning nuclear safeguards they have entered into within international organisations and with third countries. In particular, all Member States are signatories to the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty signed in 1968, which allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify that civil nuclear materials are not diverted for the purpose of producing nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. In this connection, nuclear safeguard agreements have been concluded between the Member States, the European Commission and the IAEA.

Following numerous changes in recent years, it has proved necessary to strengthen the system of safeguards applied by the IAEA. In 1998, the Member States signed additional protocols to the verification agreements concluded with the IAEA which widen the scope of those agreements.

The changes to these international undertakings have been incorporated into a new proposal for a safeguards regulation (COM(2002) 99 final), presented by the Commission to the Council.


Safeguards cover the entire nuclear fuel cycle, from the extraction of nuclear materials in the Member States, or their importation from third countries, to exportation outside the European Union.

A distinction should be drawn between Euratom safeguards, which involve only measures taken to control the use of nuclear materials, and nuclear safety, which concerns measures taken to limit the risk of accidents in the operation of nuclear installations.

Basic technical characteristics and particular safeguard provisions

It falls primarily to the person or undertaking setting up or operating an installation which uses nuclear materials for any purpose, such as production, storage, separation, research, etc, to declare the basic technical characteristics of the installation, as specified in the Regulation.

Operators of new installations must declare their technical characteristics at least 200 days before the first consignment of nuclear material is due to be received. They must specify:

  • the identification and the general arrangement of the installation and of the nuclear materials;
  • the accounting and control system for nuclear materials.

Moreover, a preliminary declaration is required 200 days before the installation is built.

Outline programme of activities

The persons responsible for an installation must draw up an outline programme of activities relating to each installation and forward it to the Commission department responsible for Euratom safeguards. It must contain the following information, to be provided at the intervals specified:

  • annually, an outline programme of activities;
  • at least 40 days before beginning the taking of a physical inventory, the programme for such work;
  • at least 40 days before starting to shut down a reactor for reloading, the programme for the shutdown.

The Commission may adopt particular safeguard provisions in respect of a specific installation, for instance concerning the frequency of, and procedures for, drawing up physical inventories.

Particular safeguard provisions

In the particular safeguard provisions, the Commission specifies the procedures by which the persons or undertakings concerned must meet the requirements imposed on them in relation to safeguards. These procedures are to include:

  • the designation of material balance areas (areas where the quantity of nuclear materials transferred may be determined upon entry and exit) and the selection of strategic points for determining the flow and stocks of nuclear materials;
  • the procedures for keeping records of nuclear materials;
  • the frequency of, and procedures for, drawing up physical inventories;
  • the type and content of the regular and special reports to be submitted to the Commission;
  • the information to be included in the documents presented for control measures.

Accounting for nuclear materials

A system of accounting for, and control of, nuclear materials which are stored and used at the installation must be established. Such a system must make it possible to establish and justify the declarations submitted to the Commission and to ensure that the nuclear materials currently in use or stored are subjected to close supervision.

Information on the nature, form and composition of these materials, their actual location and the relevant obligation and data relating to transfers are particularly important.

Under this system, those responsible for installations must submit regular reports to the Commission, including accounting reports, material balance reports describing changes in materials, inventory change reports and an annual summary of physical inventories (sum of all measured or calculated quantities of nuclear materials located in a material balance area at a given time).

Special reports are also provided for in special circumstances such as the loss of nuclear materials.

There are two distinct types of record:

  • the accounting record, which contains the following information:
  1. all inventory changes, so as to permit a determination of the book inventory (sum of the physical inventory determined by the most recent inventory for the material balance area and of all inventory changes occurring since that inventory was taken);
  2. all measurement and counting results used to determine the physical inventory;
  3. all corrections that have been made in respect of inventory changes, book inventories and physical inventories.
  • the operating record is a category of documents which, for each material balance area, contains:
  1. the operating data used to establish changes in the quantities and composition of the nuclear materials;
  2. the data obtained from the calibration of tanks, sampling and analysis, etc.;
  3. a description of the sequence of actions taken in preparing for, and in taking, a physical inventory in order to ensure that it is correct and complete;
  4. a description of the actions taken in order to ascertain the cause and magnitude of any accidental loss that might occur.

For each material balance area, the persons and undertakings operating an installation are to transmit to the Commission, no later than 15 days following the end of the month, inventory change reports for all nuclear materials held.

A special report must be made without delay following any unusual incident or circumstances or if the containment has unexpectedly changed from that specified in the particular safeguard provisions.

Ore producers are subject to a different accounting system. They must indicate, in particular, the quantity of ore extracted and its average uranium and thorium content, and the stock at the mine. These accounts must also contain details of shipments, stating the date, consignee, and quantity in each case.

Transfers between States

Exports of source materials and special fissile materials (principally plutonium 239, uranium 233 and uranium 235) to a third country and from a Member State which is not a nuclear weapon state to a Member State which is a nuclear weapon state, or vice versa, must be notified in advance to the Commission.

The same applies to installations which, within the same Member State, transfer materials the total quantity of which over a twelve-month period could exceed one effective kilogramme (an effective kilogramme is a special unit used for nuclear materials in the context of safeguards).

However, notification is not required if the quantity does not exceed one effective kilogramme. The same conditions apply to the importation and receipt of nuclear materials by Member States.

Each year, producers of ores must inform the Commission of the amounts of material dispatched from each mine during the previous year. Exporters of ores to third countries must inform the Commission of such exports no later than the date of dispatch.


The Commission must receive advance notification of most operations concerning the treatment of waste. In the case of transfers of nuclear waste which can no longer be used as nuclear materials, for instance waste embedded in cement (conditioned waste), the person responsible must notify the details to the Commission and submit an annual report on the location of the conditioned waste containing certain nuclear materials such as highly enriched uranium.

Specific provisions applicable to Member States which are nuclear weapon states

The Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty recognises two EU Member States as nuclear weapon states, namely France and the United Kingdom.

Euratom safeguards do not apply to nuclear installations or nuclear materials intended to serve the defence needs of France or the United Kingdom. Nuclear materials or installations declared by those countries to be materials or installations intended for civil uses, and those which could be used for defence purposes, are subject to certain controls, provided such controls do not constitute a threat to national security.

For further information, please visit the DG TREN site on nuclear energy:

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States
Regulation (Euratom) No 3227/76 15.01.1977
Regulation (Euratom) No 220/90 11.06.1990
Regulation (Euratom) No 2130/93 15.08.1993

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Proposal of 23 March 2002 for a Council decision [COM(2002) 99 final – Official Journal C 227 E of 24.09.2002].

Since it entered into force twenty-five years ago, Regulation No 3227/76 has made it possible to apply Euratom safeguards. However, the new proposed regulation responds to the needs resulting from the new legal framework (the Additional Protocols), developments in the nuclear industry and the extensive possibilities offered by information technologies.

The main elements of the new regulation are as follows:

  • inclusion of articles and annexes concerning reporting under the Additional Protocols;
  • reporting of waste, including clear definitions of the categories of waste;
  • derogation from reporting in the case of installations holding material of lower strategic value;
  • new reporting format involving changes in the format and content of accounting reports;
  • use of the gram as the only unit of weight, and the requirement for electronic recording and reporting.

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – Operation of Euratom Safeguards in 2002 [COM(2003) 764 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Regulation (Euratom) No 302/2005 of 8 February 2005 on the application of Euratom safeguards – Council/Commission statement [Official Journal L 54 of 28.02.2005].