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Legal wrangle looms over British or EU responsibility for nuclear fuel and wastes

Brexit clash looms over European court, nuclear power, British government says it wants ‘smooth and orderly’ end to jurisdiction of European Court of Justice in the UK.Politico, By 7/13/17,  LONDON Britain will go into next week’s Brexit negotiations staking out positions on the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and on liability for nuclear materials in the U.K. that are squarely at odds with Brussels…….

On nuclear material (the fuel and waste associated with civil nuclear plants), the U.K. wants to make sure ownership remains with whoever has the right to use it regardless of where it currently is. With ownership comes legal liability for the material and the U.K. is trying to avoid taking on responsibility which it does not see as its own — for example when Switzerland, Germany or the Netherlands sends materials to the U.K. to be turned into higher quality nuclear waste, and the U.K. sends it back.

The position would essentially lock in law what already happens under commercial contracts but it differs from the one the European Commission presented in June, potentially setting the scene for a tussle over who takes responsibility for special fissile material in the U.K. after it leaves the European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom.

Euratom owns all of the EU’s special fissile materials such as uranium, which are used to generate nuclear power.

The U.K. said the ownership should be transferred to “the persons or undertakings with the right of use and consumption of the material,” and that it should apply “whether these are established in the U.K., EU or non-EU states.”

The Commission’s paper, in contrast, said “it seems appropriate” that ownership of special fissile materials and Euratom property used for safeguard inspections in the U.K. be transferred to Britain — making it more costly for the country.

Existing rights to use and consume special fissile material shouldn’t be affected by the U.K.’s withdrawal, and the Commission should be able to require that this material be deposited with the Euratom Supply Agency or another store that the Commission can supervise, it added.

The U.K.’s position paper said it would make sure all necessary equipment is in place to maintain safeguard inspections after it leaves Euratom.

As for ownership, it was a little less cut-and-dried than Brussels.

“Further consideration will be given to the possibility of the U.K. taking ownership of existing Euratom-owned equipment. This will need to be rooted in a common understanding of the fair value and liabilities of the equipment concerned, and interactions with the EU budget.”

The documents — which laid out the U.K. negotiating positions on nuclear issuesjudicial matters and the privileges and immunities of EU institutions post Brexit — will form the basis of Brexit discussions next week……….


July 14, 2017 - Posted by | politics international, UK

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