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Document 32009L0071

Safety of nuclear installations

Safety of nuclear installations

The European Union has issued a directive aimed at ensuring the safety of nuclear installations (nuclear power stations, enrichment and reprocessing plants, etc.). The aim is to protect the population and workers against the risks those facilities present.


Council Directive 2009/71/Euratom of 25 June 2009 establishing a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations.



The directive establishes a European framework for maintaining and promoting consistent improvement of nuclear safety and its regulation. It sets an ambitious safety goal across the EU in order to prevent accidents and avoid radioactive waste from nuclear installations.


Obligations incumbent upon EU countries

  • to put in place a national framework for the safety of nuclear installations;
  • to establish an independent national safety authority, responsible for supervising the activities of nuclear power operators;
  • to carry out an initial safety assessment prior to construction of a nuclear facility and to re-assess installation safety at least every 10 years;
  • to ensure workers and citizens have access to transparent information on nuclear installations, both during normal operation and in case of incident or accident;
  • to hold periodic self-evaluations of their national framework and regulatory authorities every 10 years;
  • to request a peer review on specific safety issues, to be carried out every 6 years by safety authorities in EU countries, having recourse to the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (Ensreg) and based on the expertise of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA); the first review will begin in 2017;
  • to plan an organisational structure within their national framework in order to prepare for emergency situations and interventions on-site.

Responsibilities incumbent upon other stakeholders

The permit holder is chiefly responsible for nuclear safety and can in no event delegate this responsibility. S/he is responsible for assessing and continuously improving the safety of nuclear installations.

The directive highlights the importance of the human factor in promoting a culture of nuclear safety through education and continuous training of staff responsible for facility safety.


Directive 2009/71/Euratom came into force on 22.7.2009 and Directive 2014/87/Euratom on 14.8.2014.


A framework for ensuring nuclear safety within the EU has been adopted since 2009. After the accident in Fukushima in 2011, the Commission conducted a comprehensive assessment campaign of the risks concerning the safety of nuclear installations across the EU. Based on these tests, the Commission aimed to improve the regulation in force.

Additional information can be found on the Ensreg and WENRA websites.

See also the Commission’s DG Energy site, under the Nuclear safety tab, as well as the Commission’s press release on the new EU directive on nuclear safety and the Council’s press release on the adoption of this directive.



Entry into force

Transposition in the Member States

Official journal

Directive 2009/71/Euratom



OJ L 172, 2.7.2009, pp. 18-22

Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom



OJ L 219, 25.7.2014, pp. 42-52

last update 05.01.2015