The EU is concerned with ensuring that the highest standards of reactor safety are adopted and maintained. The Council Directive 2009/71/EURATOM establishing a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations stipulates the application of international nuclear safety standards, principles regarding the independence of the regulatory authority, responsibility of the operator, ensuring sufficient financial and human resources and regular safety supervision. The JRC contributes to its implementation through R&D activities and safety assessment.
The JRC is contributing to the implementation of the Nuclear Safety Directive through participation in peer reviews of national Regulatory Authorities and periodic reports required by the Directive. Accident analysis, strengthening of accident management provisions and emergency preparedness are key JRC activities in the nuclear safety area. The JRC also operates the European Clearinghouse on Operational Experience Feedback, bringing together nuclear regulatory authorities from EU member states operating nuclear power plants in order to facilitate the exchange of information on operational events, to analyse them and to identify and share the lessons learnt in order to improve operational safety. In addition, the JRC is contributing to the efforts to improve nuclear safety internationally. In 2011, the European Human Resources Observatory in the Nuclear Energy Sector (EHRO-N) has been set-up, in order to monitor the situation of nuclear-educated human resources in Europe, assess the trends and suggest policy options for improvement, in support to DG Energy. As regards the long-term option of the nuclear contribution to Europe's low-carbon energy mix, next generation nuclear power plants are under development which will minimise the radioactive waste and use the uranium much more efficiently. The JRC contributes to the development of next generation plants through numerical and experimental research activities carried out in dedicated test facilities. Structural materials need to be qualified for more demanding conditions, while also new classes of materials need to be developed and qualified, and eventually translated into new design codes. These research activities are closely integrated into the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) and the European industrial initiatives under the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform.