Within the framework of the Financial Perspectives for 2007-2013, the European Commission has today proposed the legislative measures needed for the European Union to continue granting financial assistance beyond 2006 to two new Member States, Lithuania and Slovakia, for the closure of four of their nuclear reactors. The decommissioning of nuclear installations involves the commitment of considerable sums of money (about 15% of the investment cost of a reactor) and extends over an extremely long period of time. The Commission today calls on the Council to honour the commitments given by the EU by granting a total Community contribution of €1.052 billion for the period 2007-2013.
In line with the commitments they gave on joining the EU, Lithuania is required to close Unit 1 of the Ignalina nuclear power plant before 2005 and Unit 2 by 31 December 2009 at the latest, and Slovakia Unit 1 of the Bohunice power plant by 31 December 2006 and Unit 2 by 31 December 2008 at the latest. For its part, the EU has pledged to provide financial assistance to support the decommissioning operations. It has already fulfilled its commitments for the period 2004-2006. As provided for in the Act of Accession, it is now necessary to establish the instruments required to enable it to fulfil its obligations in the context of the next Financial Perspectives for the period 2007-2013.
The closure of nuclear reactors involves the removal of radioactive materials (structural materials, equipment, operational waste and spent fuel) and subjecting them to the treatment appropriate to their physical characteristics and their levels of radioactivity in accordance with the safety standards in force. Decommissioning extends over an extremely long period. For obvious safety reasons, it is necessary to wait in order to account of the fall in radioactivity of the materials to be treated. Given the estimates of funding needed and the absorption capacity of the two States, the Commission has estimated that a total Community contribution of €1.052 billion (€815 million for Lituania et €237 million for Slovakia) is needed for the period 2007-2013.
The measures financed by this support must obviously cover the technical operations involved in the decommissioning of nuclear installations. However, the plan is not to limit them to the technical aspects alone, but also to take account of other areas, such as security of energy supply, and the social aspects (redeployment of power plant staff).