EU prepares "strong draft" on nuclear stress tests

Reuters News
Posted: May 04, 2011 9:48 AM
EU prepares "strong draft" on nuclear stress tests

GODOLLO, Hungary (Reuters) - The European Commission expects to present a "strong draft" for stress testing the 27-member bloc's nuclear power plants, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Tuesday.

European leaders agreed in March to set the "highest standards" of nuclear safety, in part by subjecting reactors to stress tests, to guard against crises like that at Japan's stricken Fukushima plant.

"We are well under way and I'm sure there will be a strong draft for the stress tests," Oettinger told reporters on his arrival for an informal meeting of EU energy ministers in Hungary.

"In the light of Japan, we need to control against earthquakes, tsunamis... and so on."

He did not say when the draft would be finalized.

The main topics on the agenda of the meeting are the EU's energy roadmap 2050 and external European energy relations but ministers will also touch upon the stress tests during an informal discussion later in the day.

"It's not the main point of today's agenda, it's an informal discussion at lunchtime, the formal meeting will be next week," Oettinger said, adding that the Godollo meeting of ministers was not due to accept the draft stress test proposals.

Asked how the EU Commission would convince skeptical France and Britain to accept strong criteria for the stress tests, Oettinger said:

"Safety is a European common interest and I think all member states and all neighbor states have (the) same interests."

He also said the European Union would prepare talks with eastern partners for the end of May.

France, Germany and Spain have raised the possibility of closing any of Europe's 143 reactors if they fail stress tests to be held this year.

(Reporting by Marton Dunai and Gergely Szakacs)