„European Nuclear Energy Law in a Process of Change“ Institute for Energy and Mining Law, Ruhr University Bochum, Germa n y. Introduction to European Nuclear Energy Law. Overview on lectures to be held this week (1). Monday , 25. 11. 2013, 14:00 – 15.30:
Introduction to European Nuclear Energy Law
Historicalbackground of the nuclear integration in Europe
(CERN, OEEC, Euratom)
‘…contrary to traditional interpretations, the Atomic Community was neither an irrelevant peripheral affair in the shadow of the Common Market negotiations, nor was it merely a vehicle for the realization of the EEC. On the contrary, the concept of, and the negotiations toward, Euratom seem to have been indispensable stepping stones to the development of the Common Market’.(Deubner: Die Atompolitik der westdeutschen Industrie und die Gründung von EURATOM, CAMPUS-Verlag, Frankfurt-N 1979, p. 206).
On 2 December 1942, CP-1 was ready for a demonstration. Before a group of dignitaries, George Weil worked the final control rod while Fermi carefully monitored the neutron activity. The pile "went critical" (reached a self-sustaining reaction) at 15:25. Fermi shut it down 28 minutes later.
After the chain reaction was observed, Arthur Compton, head of the Metallurgical Laboratory, notified James Conant, chairman of the National Defense Research Committee, by telephone. The conversation was in an impromptu code:
Compton: The Italian navigator has landed in the New World.
Conant: How were the natives?
Compton: Very friendly.
During the post-war decade, most Western European states’ interest in nuclear energy was muted. General economic reconstruction was prioritised.
The US dual policy of monopolisation (of known reserves and sources of strategic nuclear raw materials) and denial (of all information relating to nuclear science) condemned other powers to construct a nuclear programme in isolation.
In ‘Little Europe’ on a whole, however, the prerogative of rapid rebuilding necessitated the exploitation and maximisation of proven conventional energy sources rather than the diversion of scarce state resources to the risky, experimental and largely untried field of civil nuclear energy.
This pragmatism contributed to the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community.
Some interest in nuclear co-operative ventures existed nevertheless.
After the European Unity Movements’ Hague Congress of May 1948, the possible establishment of a European nuclear institute for physics was debated. ‘Towards the very end of 1949, in the aftermath of President Truman’s announcement of the explosion of the first Soviet atomic bomb, several personalities associated with nuclear matters in Europe began to think seriously about the possibilities of multinational co-operation in this.
Thus, Raoul Dautry, the Administrator-General of the French CEA, argued that:
‘the factories manufacturing the components for nuclear equipment cannot be used to full capacity by one country alone. … A single group of installations could thus meet the need of several countries’.
‘what each European nation is unable to do alone, a united Europe can do and, I have no doubt, would do brilliantly’.
The eventual product of the negotiations was CERN – an intergovernmental organisation devoted to fundamental research in high-energy physics. By the time the CERN Convention was signed on 1 July 1953, therefore, the whole objective of the organisation had become much narrower than originally conceived by Dautry. It was the first genuinely European science organisation.
Europe, in general, lacked access to not only the raw materials, but also to much of the information and technology, to build a nuclear industry.
The US imposed a policy of nuclear denial designed to prevent other states from constructing nuclear weapons. US non-proliferation policy, in concert with the UK and Canada, sought to monopolise and restrict access to the uranium and thorium resources of the post-war world for the US.
The USA policy was enshrined in the McMahon Atomic Energy Act, 1946. It prohibited any civil nuclear co-operation with other states unless US Congress was satisfied with the international safeguards in place.
President Eisenhower’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ speech on December 8, 1953 signalled this turnaround. The ‘Atoms for Peace’ programme aimed at diverting military fissile material to civil uses in order to slow Soviet efforts in the arms race.
Consequently, the 1954 US Atomic Energy Act permitted the transfer of American civil nuclear information to her allies.
The OEEC was the first organisation to examine the possibilities for regional nuclear energy co-operation.
The rising imports of energy (especially oil) were perceived as a threat to the continued economic recovery of Western Europe. The Council of the OEEC began to consider the implications of the rising imports and the rising costs of energy in late 1953.
In early 1954, the OEEC commissioned a study of the region’s energy needs led by M. Louis Armand, the Chairman of the French National Railway (SociétéNationale des Chemins de Fer). He was a strong advocate of nuclear energy and European integration and ‘had a natural tendency toward international co-operation and wanted the whole world’ to benefit from his work.
Armand’s OEEC Report (‘Quelques Aspects du ProblèmeEuropéen de l’Energie’) was published in June 1955.
It highlighted that Europe’s energy needs were increasing and that Europe needed an indigenous source of energy, especially electrical energy.
Armand predicted that peaceful nuclear energy was an ideal energy source and would become economically competitive in a few years. Because of the extraordinarily large scientific, technical, industrial and financial demands involved in the development of civil nuclear energy, the Report believed extensive European co-operation was vital.
To underline the US commitment to Euratom, on 22 February 1956 Eisenhower announced that the US would provide 20,000 kg of enriched uranium for peaceful uses to friendly states.
The offer was promised greater privileges to a community such as Euratom than to an individual country such as Germany. This would have strong powers of inspection as well as ‘ownership and monopoly of the purchase and sale’ of all fissionable materials in the territories of the Six.
The US-Belgian nuclear agreement of 1955 was amended in July 1956 to permit Belgium to make available increasing amounts of Congolese uranium to Euratom until 1960. It held out the possibility that all uranium produced in the Belgium Congo after 1960 could be purchased by Euratom.
In view of the fact that uranium was in short supply, US withdrawal of its claims to the Congolese ore was calculated to strengthen the arguments in favour of a strong Euratom. Under the amendment, the US permitted Belgium to dilute its most-favoured-nation status and communicate nuclear information to other members of Euratom, with appropriate security assurances.
The ‘Six’ signed the Euratom Treaty on 28 March 1957. The fundamental objective of the Treaty was outlined in Article 1:
‘It shall be the task of the Community to contribute to the raising of the standard of living in the Member States and to the development of relations with other countries by creating the conditions necessary for the speedy establishment and growth of nuclear industries’.
The Suez Crisis had appeared to provide ample evidence for the ‘energy gap’ thesis of Euratom adherents. The Crisis indicated the precariousness of overseas energy supplies. The Six’s imports of oil had more than doubled between 1950 and 1955, and 70% of Western Europe’s crude oil originated in the Middle East of which 70% was transported through the Suez Canal.
Security of energy supplies became recognised as strategically important for the first time. For Euratom’s proponents the development of an indigenous Western European nuclear industry was an economic necessity. At a time when the region was experiencing a negative balance of payments (and oil imports had to be paid for with scarce US dollars) monetary concerns dictated a reduction in these oil imports.
Any stoppage of oil would be an economic disaster for Europe. The Middle East’s political instability heightened the possibility of further oil crises.
Expertsestimated that the Six’s total energy requirements would rise by 83% from 1955 to 1975. Moreover, electricity consumption would treble during the same period.
The Six were not expected to be able to meet this from increased domestic coal production. France and Italy both lacked significant coal deposits and were becoming rapidly dependent on oil and natural gas imports. Another secure source of energy supplies was necessary, in particular for the production of the anticipated rise in demand for electricity.
Consequently, the authors of A Target for Euratom (1957)believed that this should be the mission of Euratom.
The ‘Three Wise Men’ (Armand, Etzel & Giordani) ambitiously proposed that the Six should install 15,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 1967, or a quarter of the electricity estimated necessary to meet total needs on that date.
At the time a nuclear power plant was thought capable of producing 250 megawatts, so the authors wanted to construct 60 nuclear power plants in a decade.
This first five-year programme concentrated upon setting up, equipping, staffing and organising the Joint Nuclear Research Centre (JNRC) provided for in the Treaty. The JNRC was central to Euratom’s own research programme and eventually grew to include four research centres in the 1960s. These were Ispra (Italy), Geel (Belgium), Karlsruhe (Germany) and Petten (the Netherlands). Ispra was the principal JNRC research centre and concentrated on Euratom’s main research project, ORGEL (from the French ORGanique Eau Lourde).
By this time the principal raison d’être for Euratom, the energy crisis, had receded.
By 1959 Western Europe, contrary to earlier predictions, confronted a coal glut, undermining the enthusiasm of the main coal producers (Belgium and Germany) for the extensive development of nuclear energy.
With the end of the Middle East crisis, oil imports recommenced. The increase in known oil reserves with the discovery of oil in the Sahara and the North Sea led to a reduction in oil prices and an increase in consumption.
An additional factor was the hostile attitude of the USSR towards Euratom.
The USSR conducted an ‘oil offensive’ against member states of Euratom in the early 1960s, focussing on Italy, to undermine the attractiveness of nuclear energy. The prices of Soviet crude oil were reduced below the prices of those of international oil companies. The accumulation of these forces ensured an abundance of cheap oil and this made it difficult for a new, untested energy technology to establish itself on a competitive basis. This changed energy context meant that nuclear energy could not become competitive by 1963 as predicted by the ‘Three Wise Men’.
Another premise upon which the Euratom Treaty was based proved incorrect almost as soon as the Euratom began operation.
The framers of the Treaty had assumed that the shortage of nuclear materials before and during the 1950s would continue. Thus the ESA was to ensure the equitable distribution of nuclear materials between the member states and various industrial enterprises.
However, after 1960 with the end of the US monopoly on the use of uranium produced in the Belgian Congo, the discovery of new deposits of nuclear materials, and US liberalisation of the international nuclear materials market through the IAEA, the shortage of nuclear materials ended. Thus, the principal function of the Supplies Agency, that of assuring equal access to nuclear materials, was undermined since all consumers had access to sufficient raw materials to meet their needs.
Euratom’s problems and the dissension between the member states about its objectives escalated during the second five-year research programme (1962-67).
The divergent interests of the member states became overtly irreconcilable.
The divergent interests of the member states became overtly irreconcilable. The less developed nuclear states, the Netherlands and Italy, who had JNRC research centres located in their countries wanted an extension of JNRC research activities.
The other three states, Belgium, Germany and France, all of who had relatively strong or rapidly developing national nuclear programmes, either wanted to limit or reduce JNRC research. They favoured ‘association contracts’, by which the Euratom research budget would fund research in national research centres rather than in JNRC research centres.
Consequently, after 1962 Euratom was largely immobilised by acrimonious debates concerning the revision of the research budget with the ‘reactor war’ at its heart.
Thus, in 1968, Euratom had to depend on a ‘stop-gap one year’ research budget amounting to half the 1967 amount. ‘Transitional’ or emergency one year budgets continued into the 1970s. Euratom had effectively failed in meeting its headline goals.