NGOs walk out of industry-dominated nuclear talking shop

29 May 2009

EU-backed European Nuclear Forum has sidelined critical voices

Prague, May 29 – Today, environmental organisations Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Sortir du nucléaire formally ended their participation in the European Nuclear Energy Forum (ENEF) at a meeting in Prague hosted by the Czech and Slovak governments and backed by the European Commission. The environmental groups accuse the nuclear industry-dominated body of stifling critical voices and ignoring the concerns of civil society.

Greenpeace delegate Jan Haverkamp said: "The EU promised an open debate but the concerns of civil society are being ignored or even misrepresented to suit the nuclear industry.[1] There is no reason why European taxpayers should help fund the nuclear propaganda machine. We hoped there would be a fair discussion, but this is clearly not on the agenda of a forum that acts a lot like a nuclear lobby group."

The forum, which is publicly funded, was set up by the Commission to encourage an open debate "without taboos" about the future of nuclear energy in the EU. But the three environmental organisations, the only NGOs to be granted access to the forum, accuse the Commission of not acting as an honest broker. After actively participating in several working groups since the forum's creation in 2007, the environmental groups claim their contributions on issues such as nuclear waste and nuclear safety have been ignored.

Patricia Lorenz of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "ENEF is no stakeholder discussion. The working groups on nuclear risk as well as non proliferation consist of industry representatives assuring each other that nuclear power is basically problem free. Our input, even written statements, are not being included, or even reflected in discussions or reports. ENEF has reached a complete standstill."

The environmental groups also accuse the Czech and Slovak governments of using ENEF meetings to stage pro-nuclear PR stunts. Slovak prime minister Robert Fico and his Czech counterpart Jan Fischer are expected to use today's meeting to announce a deal between Czech state-owned utility CEZ and Slovak state-owned utility JAVYS to build a new nuclear power station in Bohunice, in Slovakia. Greenpeace filed a complaint to the European Commission earlier this week for infringement of EU market rules, accusing the Slovak government of illegally selecting CEZ without holding a public tender.[2]

Charlotte Mijeon of Sortir du nucléaire said: "During ENEF meetings, scientific literature submitted by the NGOs was not acknowledged in discussion papers. The groups will from now on focus on their direct contacts with the Commission, the Parliament, member states and industry. The nuclear industry's attempt to greenwash itself through ENEF must be exposed."

The environmental groups believe that without the participation of civil society the nuclear forum has lost its legitimacy and should therefore be dissolved. Despite terminating their participation within ENEF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Sortir du nucléaire will continue to act as watchdogs on nuclear safety and engage in bilateral dialogue with nuclear stakeholders outside the framework of the forum.

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NOTES:

(1) In 2008, ENEF repeatedly called for the EU to develop safety standards for nuclear installations based on Best Available Technology (BAT) and Best Regulatory Practice (BRP) (http://ec.europa.eu/energy/nuclear/forum/meetings/doc/2008_05_22/2008_05_22_conclusions_enef.pdf and http://ec.europa.eu/energy/nuclear/forum/meetings/doc/2008_11_03/conclusionsbratislava08.pdf). However, the Commission's proposal for a Council directive in December 2008 distorted the forum's conclusions and failed to mention the crucial conditions of BAT and BRP (http://ec.europa.eu/energy/nuclear/safety/doc/2008_nuclear_safety_directive_proposal_council_proposal_euratom.pdf).

(2) For more information on the Greenpeace complaint, go to http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/press-releases2/complaint-slovak-nuclear-25-05-09