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UKELA Report Published Outlining the Environmental Implications of Leaving Euratom

Jul 14, 2017

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Joe Newbigin

UKELA report published outlining the implications of leaving Euratom for questions of safety, the protection of human health and the environment

United Kingdom Environmental Law Association (UKELA) has today published its report ‘Brexit and Environmental law: Exit from the Euratom treaty and its Environmental Implications. This report focuses on questions of safety, the protection of human health and the environment arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the Euratom Treaty.

Andrew Bryce, co-chair of the UKELA Brexit Task Force says:

“This is an important report which focuses on the environmental implications of leaving Euratom. It's an issue which has received little public attention to date compared to nuclear safeguards and security, and one that UKELA wishes to highlight as part of its work on Brexit. We are immensely grateful to the authors for bringing their considerable experience and expertise in nuclear law to the subject.”

This report is written by Stephen Tromans QC, barrister and former head of 39 Essex Chambers, and Paul Bowden, partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. Announcing the publication of this report Paul Bowden says:

"Whatever other outcomes of the Euratom withdrawal process the UK ‎must ensure - and articulate - its continuing commitment to international obligations, beyond Euratom itself, to deliver nuclear ‎safety, as a matter of public confidence and of standing in the international community.‎"

The report emphasises that withdrawal from the EU and withdrawal from Euratom are - as legal and constitutional processes - separate exercises, ‎however they may be conducted practically and politically.

In view of the particular complexities and challenges of withdrawing from Euratom, and of the UK maintaining a demonstrable commitment to safety in the nuclear field, ‘Brexatom’ requires its own Agreement and its own timetable.

The report examines the continued operation of a number of specific legislative measures, and the role each of these measures has on the current regime of nuclear safety. It emphasises that the UK must find clear agreements with Euratom and its members states for continued regulatory equivalence and full participation in key safety-related bodies, such as ENSREG (the European Nuclear Safety Regulators' Group) and ECURIE (European Community Urgent Radiological Information Exchange).

It states that the review and re-alignment of existing Nuclear Co-operation Agreements (NCAs) embracing Nuclear Safety with states outside Euratom (not only with countries such as the US, Japan and Canada but those with developing civil nuclear capability) is an urgent priority, in order to maintain the UK's international contribution in this field and to demonstrate continued leadership.

“In the longer term, maintaining close regulatory equivalence between UK and Euratom Nuclear Safety laws and regulations seems a realistic and also necessary aim. Establishing principles, or at least parameters, on equivalence in a future Euratom withdrawal agreement is, alongside replacing as many as possible of the current Article 101 NCA’s, perhaps the greatest priority for the imminent “Brexatom” negotiating process.”

Notes to the editors:
  1. The UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) is the foremost body of environmental lawyers in the UK. It is composed of 1,400 academics, barristers, solicitors, consultants, and judges involved in the practice, study and formulation of environmental law across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. UKELA aims to promote better law for the environment and to improve understanding and awareness of environmental law.
  2. UKELA remained neutral on the Brexit Referendum. UKELA’s full position on Brexit can be found at www.ukela.org/ukelaposition.
  3. UKELA’s Brexit Task Force was established in September 2016 to advise on all matters relating to and arising from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union insofar as this impacts environmental law, practice and enforcement in the UK. The 27 members of the Task Force include experienced environmental law solicitors and barristers, legal academics, and members of the judiciary with representation from all the UK jurisdictions.
  4. The Brexit Task Force has been examining the legal and technical implications of separating our domestic environmental laws from the European Union and the means by which a smooth transition can be achieved. The Task Force aims to inform the debate on the effect that withdrawal from the EU and draw attention to potential problem which may arise.
  5. This report is on of a series of UKELA reports to be published between July and October 2017 on key issues related to Brexit and environmental law. The first five reports will be: Brexit and Environmental law: Exit from the Euratom Treaty and its Environmental Implications; Brexit and Environmental law: the UK and International Environmental Law after Brexit; Brexit and Environmental law: Enforcement and Political Accountability Issues; Brexit and Environmental law: Environmental Standard Setting Outside the EU; and, Brexit and Environmental law: the UK and European Environmental Bodies.
  6. Stephen Tromans QC is a barrister at 39 Essex Chambers, where he was Joint Head of Chambers from 2011 to 2015. He is a member of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), the author of the leading text in the field (“Nuclear Law”). Stephen is a former chair of UKELA and a member since its formation in 1986. He is also a member of the International Nuclear Law Association (INLA) and a director of 
  7. Paul Bowden is a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. He is programme leader of the Nuclear Energy Agency’s International School of Nuclear Law at the University of Montpellier and a past Board member of the World Nuclear Association/

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