Euratom: nuking Europe's future

Convention must reject promotion of nuclear power in new European Constitution

Feature story - July 9, 2003
Greenpeace activists delivered 15 barrels of fake radioactive waste to the doors of the European Parliament. Nuclear power is being promoted at the heart of Europe's new Constitution. Rolling an outdated and undemocratic treaty into future EU law is not just inappropriate - it's dangerous.

Greenpeace activists deliver 15 barrels of fake radioactive waste to the doors of the European Parliament

Greenpeace activists delivered 15 barrels of fake radioactive waste to the doors of the European Parliament. Nuclear power is being promoted at the heart of Europe's new Constitution. Rolling an outdated and undemocratic treaty into future EU law is not just inappropriate - it's dangerous.

It should be the perfect chance for Europe to build a bright new future. A future powered by renewable, clean energy sources like solar and wind power. Nuclear free and fossil fuel free. A future where real commitments are made to halting climate change by phasing out fossil fuels. Where carbon dioxide emissions produced when fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas are burnt, are significantly reduced and nuclear fuel is not advocated as a 'clean' alternative. Where the legacy of nuclear waste is addressed and the myth of safe nuclear power is exploded.

Unbelievable as it may be, Europe is in fact close to enshrining nuclear power at the heart of its new Constitution. Valery Giscard d'Estaing has proposed that the outdated, undemocratic and dangerous 1957 Euratom Treaty is included in the new Constitution.

The Convention on the Future of Europe is holding its final talks on the draft Constitution in Brussels. Mahi Sideridou of Greenpeace said "It's now up to Convention members. They can either bow to Giscard and let him have his way or stand up to him and say no to nuclear."

Although numerous individual Convention members have demanded the deletion of the Treaty from the text that is now being finalised, they are being ignored by the Praesidium, the ruling body of the Convention on the Future of Europe that produced the draft text. There has not even been a full plenary discussion on this fundamental issue.

Greenpeace energy spokesperson, Stefan Schurig, said "This treaty is entirely inappropriate to the times and in no way reflects the actual circumstances in the EU today". Six EU countries have never produced nuclear power, while four others have decided to phase it out and Italy has already completed its phase out. On 12 March this year, the German Bundestag called for the Euratom Treaty to be allowed to expire.

If the European Union doesn't stand up to Giscard, it will be required to promote nuclear power and the nuclear industry will get preferential treatment - institutional and financial. It's hard to see how this fits with the fundamental principles of sustainable development and fair competition that requires a level playing field for all energy sources.

It is feared that nuclear power projects will get additional funding, for example, through the European Investment Bank because the proposal would make the European Atomic Community an integral part of the future European Union.

"The experience of the last fifty years has shown that nuclear power is a source of incalculable dangers of huge proportions and that the ever-increasing mountains of nuclear waste cannot be safely disposed of anywhere in the world", added Stefan Schurig. If nuclear power is supported by the European Constitution, it will set Europe back decades.

If the Convention fails to resolve this threat, then it will be up to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to do so in October at the next phase of the Constitution process.

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