"Streamlined" EU nuclear safety funds proposed

Commission outlines progress in tackling nuclear risks in eastern Europe, ex-Soviet states

The European Commission has proposed "streamlining" procedures for granting funds to improve nuclear safety in eastern European and former Soviet countries. Under the planned changes, it would conclude direct agreements with contractors helping to upgrade reactor installations. The move is needed, it says, to cut out the use of procurement agents and because the "limited number of qualified operators in member states" means there is an "absence of normal competition" in the sector.

In a communication outlining its plans, the Commission also reviews progress to date on nuclear safety assistance in eastern Europe. Agreements have been reached for three "non-upgradeable" plants in Lithuania, Bulgaria and Slovakia to be closed, while euros 917m of aid has been dispensed, with 950 projects completed, 450 ongoing and 200 imminent.

Environmentalists have criticised the Commission for supporting the building of new nuclear plants in Ukraine and say it has "caved in" by not requiring earlier closure of non-upgradeable reactors.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111. See also press release IP/00/977. The communication is entitled "Commission support to nuclear safety in the Newly Independent States and Central and Eastern Europe", COM(2000)493.

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