Help Print this page 
Title and reference
Radioactive waste & spent fuel - safety rules

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
Multilingual display

Radioactive waste & spent fuel - safety rules

Directive 2011/70 - safe management of nuclear waste


Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom of 19 July 2011 establishing a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste



It lays down:

principles to guide national policies on radioactive waste and spent fuel from civilian nuclear activities,

the scope of national legislative, regulatory and organisational frameworks,

rules on disposal.


The directive requires EU countries’ national policies on radioactive waste and spent fuel to be based on the following principles:

the amounts generated must be kept as low as possible,

all steps in generation and management are interdependent,

safety as a priority,

generators must bear the full cost of all safety requirements,

all decision-making processes must be documented.

Each EU country is responsible for managing its own radioactive waste and spent fuel.

Each must implement a national legislative, regulatory and organisational framework for such material that includes:

a national management programme,

safety management measures,

a licensing system for management activities,

measures to enforce the safety requirements,

assigned responsibilities for the different stages of management,

public information and participation,

adequate financing.

National management programme

This must include details of:

overall policy objectives with clear time-frames,

an inventory of spent fuel and radioactive waste, with estimates for future quantities,

plans for the post-closure period of a disposal facility,

assigned responsibilities for programme implementation,

assessment of the costs of implementing a national programme,

financing scheme(s),

agreements concluded with other countries (inside or outside the EU),

a transparent information policy.

Regulatory authority

This must function separately from producers and promoters of radioactive material and nuclear energy.

Licence system

Companies that handle nuclear waste must apply for a licence to do so. They then hold primary responsibility for its safe management.

To get a licence, a company must demonstrate that it can:

safely set up, operate and decommission a nuclear facility,

ensure that the post-closure phase of a facility is safe.

Periodic reviews

Every 10 years, each country must organise self-assessments and an international peer review of their national framework, regulatory authority and/or national programme, to ensure they all meet high safety standards.


Radioactive waste must be disposed of in the country where it was generated, unless there are agreements with other countries.

If waste is shipped to a country outside the EU, responsibility for safety still rests with the EU country that generated it. That country must ensure that the country receiving the waste:

has an agreement with the EU on how to properly handle radioactive waste/ spent fuel,

has waste management and disposal programmes that comply with this directive’s safety standards,

has authorised facilities in operation before the material is shipped.


From 22 August 2011.




Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2011/70/Euratom



OJ L 199, 2.8.2011, pp. 48-56

last update 16.09.2015