In daily life, we are exposed to various sources of ionising radiation, for example, natural radiation sources, medical applications, industrial practices, effluents from nuclear installations, fallout from nuclear weapon testing or the impact of nuclear accidents. Exposure to increased levels of ionising radiation can be harmful to human health. The Euratom Community seeks to protect its citizens against the dangers of increased levels of exposure.
Basic safety standards
The Euratom Community has established a set of basic safety standards to protect workers, members of the public, and patients against the dangers arising from ionising radiation. These standards also include emergency procedures that were strengthened following the Fukushima nuclear accident.
The Basic safety standards ensure
- the protection of workers exposed to ionising radiation, such as workers in the nuclear industry and other industrial applications, medical staff and those working in places with indoor radon or in activities involving naturally occurring radioactive material
- the protection of members of the public, for example, from radon in buildings
- the protection of medical patients, for example, by avoiding accidents in radio-diagnosis and radiotherapy
- strengthened requirements on emergency preparedness and response incorporating lessons learnt from the Fukushima accident
The basic safety standards are developed in consultation with a group of scientific experts in public health and in radiation protection.
Emergency preparedness and response
In the event of a nuclear accident, fast and accurate sharing of information can make a huge difference in ensuring people's safety. Under the Euratom Treaty, the European Commission is responsible for exchanging information quickly and manages 2 platforms for such exchange.
The European Community Urgent Radiological Information Exchange
ECURIE was set up to facilitate early notification and information exchange in the event of a radiological or nuclear emergency. All EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Montenegro and the Republic of North Macedonia take part, and they must promptly notify the Commission if they decide to take measures to protect their population in case of an emergency. The Commission must then make this information available to all other members.
The European Radiological Data Exchange Platform
EURDEP makes radiological monitoring data from 38 European countries available to each other. All EU countries plus Iceland, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Serbia and Belarus participate in EURDEP. Its data is usually provided at least once a day and delivered at least once every hour during an emergency. Public radiation monitoring data is available on EURDEP's site.
Post-Brexit relations on energy fall under the EU-UK Trade Cooperation Agreement and the Euratom-UK Agreement.
- Euratom Treaty
- Basic Safety Standards Directive (2013/59/EURATOM)
- Review of Current Off-site Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response Arrangements in EU Member States and Neighbouring Countries (December 2013)