Today, approximately half of the countries in the EU generate nuclear energy. France has the most operable nuclear reactors, followed by Belgium and Spain. These countries could increase power generation from existing reactors relatively quickly because most reactors normally do not operate at full capacity. This was one of the solutions proposed by the International Energy Agency to reduce European dependence on Russian natural gas.
The government of the Czech Republic also has plans to build at least two new nuclear reactors, while the Polish government wants to build the country's first nuclear reactor in a bid to move away from its heavy dependence on coal. It covers all civil nuclear activities in the European Union and aims to provide a common market for nuclear materials, ensure the supply of nuclear fuel and ensure that nuclear materials do not deviate from their intended purpose. The European Commission is ready to decide later this year whether to classify nuclear energy as a clean energy source; if it does, it could boost investment in nuclear energy across the region, experts say. Cooperation within Europe and between Europe and third countries operates at several different levels.
Dries believes that the share of nuclear energy in Europe's energy mix will continue to decline, even if plans for proposed plants in the Czech Republic and Poland go ahead. The deficit in nuclear generation in the United Kingdom was covered by electricity from gas power plants and imports from Europe. The Euratom Treaty provided a stable legal framework that fostered the growth and development of the nuclear industry, while increasing the security of fuel supply for the nuclear industry and the safety of nuclear power plants. However, continuing concerns following the Chernobyl accident over two types of Russian nuclear reactors in Eastern Europe led the EU to demand their closure as part of EU accession negotiations with host countries.
Some nuclear research and development projects, for example, the nuclear production of hydrogen to power vehicles and generate electricity, may be eligible for Green Deal funding, including part of the 265 billion euros that the EC has earmarked for investments in post-pandemic climate protection. It allows students to earn credits in a nuclear discipline outside their host country to obtain the additional qualification of the European Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. The EU also supports nuclear safety through several agencies and programs, such as the TACIS (CIS States) and PHARE (Eastern Europe, including the Baltic States) programs and various funds. These two events were by far the largest nuclear accidents in history; the only disasters that received a level 7 (the highest rating) on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
The Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) is a network of core regulators from EU countries with nuclear power plants and Switzerland, with members from 17 countries. The EC recommended that the Euratom Supply Agency be responsible for ensuring a diverse supply of nuclear fuel, both for the current fleet of EU nuclear power plants and those that are about to be built. France, the EU's main atomic state with nuclear weapons and fifty-six power reactors, is ready to launch a major reinvestment in nuclear energy. The nuclear energy industry can argue that the EU favors nuclear investments by contributing to the reduction of carbon emissions.