The new context of EURATOM

The new context of EURATOM

This programme complements the objectives of Horizon Europe and focuses on innovation in the field of nuclear energy

The importance of nuclear energy in the European Union was already very present in its founding treaty of 1957, with the creation of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM).

It came into being at the height of the Cold War, and since then EURATOM has been the European programme that coordinates actions in the field of nuclear energy. It is mainly dedicated to:

· Developing nuclear research and training.

· Establishing safety and radiation protection standards.

· Promoting the nuclear industry among the Member States.

· Securing the supply of nuclear fuels and the peaceful use of nuclear materials.

EURATOM and Horizon Europe

The EURATOM programme complements the achievement of Horizon Europe’s objectives in the context of the energy transition and has a budget of EUR 1,382 million for the period 2021-2025.

There are currently 15 funding calls open, which you can find out about in detail on Kaila. Many of them focus on the current challenges of nuclear energy, as the European nuclear landscape has changed since the creation of EURATOM.

Recent transformations

The following are some of the trends that have helped EURATOM’s activity adapt to this new context:

Closure of nuclear plants: during this period, several EU countries have chosen to close or accelerate the closure of their nuclear plants, such as Germany and Belgium. Both have established plans to phase out nuclear power from their energy matrix. However, other European partners, such as France, are highly dependent on nuclear energy and want to renew and maintain their nuclear reactors.

Increase in renewable energy: in response to concerns about nuclear safety and radioactive waste management, many EU countries have pushed for the development of renewable energy, such as wind and solar. This has led to a significant increase in renewable generation capacity in the region.

Safety and regulations: following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, strict nuclear safety regulations were implemented in the EU. This has led to improvements in accident protection and the strengthening of safety standards at existing nuclear plants.

Debate on the role of nuclear energy: there has been an ongoing debate on the role of nuclear energy in the EU’s energy future. Some argue that nuclear power is a clean, low-carbon energy source that can help tackle climate change. Others, however, question its safety, the challenges of radioactive waste management and the possibility of nuclear accidents.