Nuclear energy policy update: Key recommendations from the Conference on Nuclear Third Party Liability and Insurance

28 January 2014

The first nuclear energy policy update of 2014 comes direct from Brussels. Maxine Symington brings the latest news from the Conference on Nuclear Third Party Liability and Insurance, January 2014.

The Conference on Nuclear Third Party Liability and Insurance, co-organised by the European Commission (EC), the European Economic and Social Committee and the Brussels Nuclear Law Association, took place on January 20-21 2014.

The recommendations outlined at the conference follow a consultation last year which closed in October. They are subject to confirmation of EU competence under Article 98 of the Euratom Treaty, to subsidiarity and proportionality principles, and to their compatibility with the revised Vienna Convention (1997) (VC) and the revised Paris Convention (2004) (PC).

The UK is a signatory to PC and has drawn up an order to implement the 2004 revision. This broadens nuclear heads of claim, geography and amount of compensation available, but cannot become effective until all state signatories are ready to ratify on the same date.

Recommendations

  • On the subject of nuclear liability amounts, there are two recommendations to be considered further. One takes a mandatory approach, while the other is merely persuasive. Either all EU members are required to join the VC or the PC and adhere to the Joint Protocol, or EU members wishing to join the VC or the PC should ratify them exclusively, and, if they have not already done so, adhere to the Joint Protocol.
  • The EC may provide a deadline for the fulfillment of its recommendation, and take necessary steps to lift the cumbersome requirement that all EU parties to either the VC or the PC must deposit their ratification instruments of the amending Protocols of 1997 or 2004 simultaneously.
  • A Directive should be drawn up to recognise the basic principles of the VC and PC e.g. strict liability, legal channelling, the right to limit the operator's liability in amount and in time and the obligation of the operator to cover its liability by insurance or other financial security.
  • It would also establish amounts for nuclear third party liability and compulsory financial security in line with the PC provisions and require Member States to ensure that victims in all EU Member States would be indemnified without discrimination based upon nationality, domicile or residence.

Claims handling and insurance

There are other recommendations relating to the stream lining of claims handling and which relate to the increasing of insurance capacity. They also facilitate consideration of the building of additional funds through use of operator pools, and to the establishing of rules governing state top up over and above available insurance capacity.


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