Press Releases

New Poll – public want UK to stay part of Euratom

16 October 2017

New polling released today shows that only 10% of the UK public agree with the UK government’s decision to leave Euratom, the Treaty which regulates the nuclear sector across Europe, at the same time as leaving the European Union.

The poll, undertaken by YouGov for the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), reveals 56% of respondents want to remain in Euratom, only 10% believe we should leave the Treaty, with the remaining 34% not sure.

Most respondents consider the Euratom Treaty to be important to the UK, with 75% saying safeguarding checks are important and 72% allowing free movement of nuclear workers, skills and products is important. A further 64% agree investing in fusion research and receiving nuclear materials is significant.

The poll also shows two in five of those who voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum would like to stay a part of Euratom; this number rises to 76% with those who voted to remain.

The UK nuclear industry believes seeking to retain the main features of Euratom membership through a third-party agreement, in negotiation with the European Commission, would best serve the national interest and ensure the nuclear sector, vital to providing continuous low carbon power, can continue to operate without the risk of significant disruption.

At the very least, there will need to be transitional arrangements to enable complex agreements to be put in place, replicating those delivered through Euratom.

Industry is concerned that without continued membership, an agreement on associated status or transitional arrangements in place, there will be significant disruption to building, operating and decommissioning nuclear power stations.

Many of the UK’s nuclear trade agreements, known as Nuclear Co-operation Agreements, are part of our Euratom membership, and they will have to be renegotiated and agreed.

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said:

“Leaving Euratom means replicating its administrative, practical and technical safeguarding obligations, negotiating nuclear specific trade agreements, and ensuring the UK’s involvement in Euratom R&D programmes. This will be extremely challenging in the remaining 529 days, alongside all the other negotiations which need to take place.

“This poll shows the public agree with the UK nuclear industry – with only 1 in 10 thinking the UK should leave Euratom.

“We continue to urge the government to explore the options to retain the benefits of being part of Euratom in negotiation with the European Commission. Going to extraordinary lengths to replicate the arrangements we already benefit from is a time-consuming process when there are potentially simpler, more straightforward options to consider.

“While continued, or some form of associate, Euratom membership is the industry’s preferred option, the government’s starting point should be to at least seek agreement on a transitional period, to avoid the increasingly real prospect of a cliff edge exit.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) is the trade association and representative voice of Britain’s civil nuclear industry. It represents more than 260 companies including nuclear power station operators, new build developers and vendors, those engaged in decommissioning, waste management, all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, supply chain and consultancy companies. Find out more at niauk.org.ukor @niauk.
  1. The nuclear industry generates a fifth of all electricity used in the UK, directly employs around 64,000 professionals and has the support of 74% of the public. The power generated by existing power stations avoids the emissions of 27 million tonnes of CO₂ a year – the equivalent of taking around a third of Britain’s cars off the roads. Take a look at the Jobs Map.
  1. The Euratom Treaty is separate from the European Union Treaties, but is governed by the same institutions; the European Commission, Council, Courts of Justice. Formed in 1957 all EU member states are members of Euratom and the UK joined in 1973. The government has explained that as Euratom is ‘uniquely legally joined’ to the Treaty on European Union, the UK will need to leave Euratom at the same time as leaving the European Union. This has been disputed by experts in nuclear and European law. Read more in the NIA’s Euratom Briefing Paper and Exiting Euratom report and find out more at https://www.niauk.org/industry-issues/euratom/.
  1. The survey was undertaken by YouGov on behalf of the NIA between 7-16 August 2017 and received 2,016 responses. The sample has been weighted to be representative of the UK population by age, gender, social grade, region and how voted in the EU Referendum 2016. Take a look at the data.

Media Contacts:

Sara Crane: 020 7766 6646 / 07803 696 786 sara.crane@niauk.org

Rupert Lewis: 020 7766 6642 / 07894 595 717 rupert.lewis@niauk.org