Austrian minister wants to change Euratom Treaty

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(April 9, 1999) In connection with a changed European political landscape, specially the new nuclear policy in Germany, Austria now sees a possibility to change the Euratom Treaty. A new perspective for the Coalition of Non-Nuclear Countries?

(508.5002) WISE Amsterdam - Austrian minister Barbara Prammer of Consumer Protection has made a proposal for change in the Euratom treaty, of which the main items are:

  • Promotion of nuclear energy by Euratom must be ended. At the same time standard nuclear safety regulations must be incorporated in European law;
  • The democratic deficit of Euratom must be repaired. The European parliament has to be involved in all future decisions on nuclear issues;
  • Construction and financing of new nuclear power plants will no longer be allowed; and
  • Liability for operators of nuclear reactors will be raised.

Minister Prammer has involved Chancellor Klima in her proposal but not coalition partner ÖVP. Austria also "rethinks" payment to Euratom: they do not want Austrian money to be spent on promotion of nuclear energy. The German Minister Trittin promised to support Prammer's proposal in principle, when Prammer visited Germany.

Austria plans a conference in Autumn 1999 with other countries, which are against or are skeptical about nuclear energy (the so called Coalition of Non-Nuclear Countries), to talk about the proposal. After that meeting, Austria will first present the proposal to the European Parliament and then formally apply in Brussels to change the Euratom Treaty. Finally a Government Conference on this issue should be held.
At the moment, eight from the 15 countries of the European Union (EU) do not use nuclear energy for electricity production. Two other countries, Sweden and Germany, are planning to close their nuclear power plants. No EU country seriously considers to build a new nuclear reactor. This situation more or less signifies the beginning of the end of nuclear power in the EU.

Together with German Minister Trittin, Barbara Prammer made a concrete, attractive offer to the minister of environment, Milos Kuzvart of the Czech Republic, to forego completion of the Temelin nuclear plant. The offer includes energy efficiency measures and common construction of non-nuclear power plants, said Trittin's spokesman Michael Schoeren. The Czech Minister Kuzvart visited Vienna on April 6 to discuss the offer. Discussions on expert and official levels are to be held, too, to concretize the offer. The Czech government has announced a final decision on completion of Temelin for the begin of May.

The Austrian Anti-Atom International (AAI) has welcomed Prammer's proposal to reform Euratom. The AAI underlines that the international conference has to be prepared very well. Otherwise it might meet the same fate as the conference of non-nuclear regions planned last November by the Salzburg region, which had to be cancelled. The organization has to be aware that the nuclear industry will in one way or another try to obstruct the initiative. Senior Austrian govermnent officials met the three main Austrian anti-nuclear organizations (Greenpeace, Global 2000 and the AAI) on April 7 to discuss preparation, strategy and contents of the international autumn conference.

Source: Die Presse, 13/14 and 31 March 1999
Contact: AAI
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Tel: +43-1-5229 102
Fax: +43-1-5229 103