The Euratom Treaty (2016/C 203/01), establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), lays down the foundation for the peaceful use of nuclear materials and technologies in the European Union (EU) and establishes a nuclear material supervision system, known as ‘Euratom safeguards’, under the responsibility of the European Commission.
The Euratom Treaty explicitly requires to ensure non-diversion of civil nuclear materials from their intended uses and compliance with the safeguards obligations assumed under international agreements.
Reporting and verification
To achieve these objectives, all users of nuclear materials within the EU are obliged to provide information on their installations, and report on the flows and inventories of nuclear materials to the Commission, as described in the Commission Regulation (2005/302/Euratom).
The Commission analyses the information declared and performs on-site inspections to verify their correctness, completeness, and coherence as well as the correspondence with the physical reality.
The controls and verification activities cover the whole nuclear fuel cycle and all civil nuclear installations throughout the EU. They involve
- ensuring the compliance of operators concerning Euratom safeguards provisions,
- monitoring and evaluating the performance of the users’ nuclear material accounting and control system, and
- verifying the non-diversion of nuclear material, confirming the credibility of the users’ declarations by performing independent verifications. These verifications are performed by Euratom inspectors both at their offices in Luxembourg and on-site at the various nuclear installations.
Based on their findings, Euratom inspectors draw conclusions enabling the Commission to fulfil its mandate under the Euratom Treaty. In case of infringement of the legal provisions, the Commission has the right to impose sanctions on an EU country or a user concerned.
The Euratom Treaty enables Euratom to enter into partnerships with third countries and international organisations to cooperate in the domain of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Euratom has signed such nuclear cooperation agreements with several third countries, including the main supplier states in this field. These agreements govern, for example, the transfer of nuclear materials, equipment, or technologies.
At the international level, nuclear safeguards, as part of the regime concerning the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, are the responsibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). All EU countries are members of the IAEA and parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
The NPT makes a distinction between non-nuclear-weapon countries and nuclear-weapon countries, and therefore, two multilateral safeguards agreements were concluded
- the safeguards agreement and its respective additional protocol between the EU non-nuclear weapons countries, Euratom and the IAEA;
- the safeguards agreement and its respective additional protocol between France, Euratom and the IAEA.
In implementing these agreements, the IAEA and the Commission collaborate closely by performing joint inspections of nuclear installations and using common instrumentations and techniques while maintaining their ability to draw independent conclusions.
- Regulation on the application of Euratom safeguards (2005/302/Euratom)