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Denmark: Parliament calls for EURATOM reform

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

In April, all 10 parties represented in the Danish Folketing announced their support for reform of the Euratom Treaty of 1957, one of the founding treaties in what was then the European Common Market. Like many institutions of that era, the treaty promotes the development of nuclear energy, but not other energy sources. Unlike the other founding treaties of the EU, Euratom has never been updated or amended.

The announcement just happened to coincide with a communiqué from the EU Commission proposing democratization of EU energy policy. Although it falls short of instructing the government to take any specific measures, the unanimous statement of sentiment will surely guide national policy. Sweden, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Ireland and Hungary, plus international environmental organizations and industrial organizations in the energy sector are already pushing for reform.

Many Danes have objected to the Euratom Treaty, even before Denmark joined the Union. Criticism has increased with Denmark's growing commitment to renewable energy sources – particularly wind power. The Danes' principal complaint concerns the Union's subsidization of nuclear energy under the treaty – a policy that stands in stark contrast to the EU's overall ban on state support to market actors. Putting nuclear energy on the same footing as other energy sources is the prime reform goal.

Denmark chose not to rely on domestic nuclear power from the start. Yet, as a Member State, Denmark is currently required to contribute about €27,000 each year to the Euratom budget, a good share of which supports the ITER fusion reactor project. Participation in Euratom is mandatory for all Member States.

From Denmark's point of view, levelling the playing field for energy sources would have two main advantages. As Niels Henrik Hooge of NOAH/Friends of the Earth Denmark puts it: "Although the Commission's proposal does not go far enough, a reform of the Treaty to give renewable energy fair terms can boost the expansion of renewable energy technologies in Europe, to the benefit of both the environment and Danish export interests."

The European Commission communiqué ‒ titled 'A more efficient and democratic decision making in EU energy and climate policy' ‒ is posted at: