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European court of auditors: EC wasted millions in inefficient programs

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 4, 1998) In a very clear statement the Greens in the European Parliament (EP) condemned the role of the European Commission in the decisions on the spending of the hundreds of millions of dollars for nuclear safety in the former Soviet Union. "Apparently the Commission suffers from a distorted self-perception," the Greens said. "It is not able to learn from its own mistakes".

(503.4962) WISE Amsterdam- The European Union's Court of Auditors in its special report on nuclear safety (released on November 16), heavily criticizes the Commission's Phare and Tacis nuclear safety programs. The evaluation of the Court shows that the Commission's 800 million ECU (US$930 million) programs failed to improve nuclear safety in the East European nuclear plants. The Commission wasted money on useless equipment and far too expensive studies instead of protecting citizens from highly risky reactors.

Stressing the general conclusion, the report is full of clear statements: "No agreement has been concluded between the Commission and the recipients as to which reactors (in Russia) are to be closed down in the short or medium term or on the conditions governing their continued operation. The Commission has made no allowance for the political, social and economic realities in its program and has not acted in a transparent manner, which has caused tensions amongst the recipients (as is the case with the Kozloduy power plant)."

Or what about this one: "The lack of clarity and realism in the strategy, the closed circuit development of the Phare and Tacis programs and the Commission's excessive transfer of responsibility to third parties results in a lack of consistency in the allocations of resources and delays wich undermine the value of EU action."
By the way, these so-called third parties are the Western consultancy firms and experts whose "fees are 10 to 15 times higher than those paid to Eastern European experts with equivalent qualifications."

According to the Greens in the EP, "It seems that the Commission wants to promote nuclear energy in Eastern Europe, when at the same time nuclear energy in the EU is in decline. In 1996 we already tabled a study which criticised the dubious results of the nuclear safety program. It is regrettable that the Court has to confirm this evaluation. It is a real scandal that the Commission in March 1998 still painted a rosy picture of its nuclear safety program when it sent a report to the EP."

"We ask for an independent study on the real state of safety in Eastern European nuclear plants," said Paul Lannoue. "On this basis the Commission then will have to come up with a real concept for nuclear safety."


  • Press release by Greens in European Parliament, 17 November
  • Court of Auditors report "Assessing the Phare and Tacis nuclear safety programmes", released 16 November 1998

Contact: Antony Froggatt
53A Nevill Road
London, N16 8SW