Rationale & Objectives

Policy background

The Directive 2011/70/EURATOM (“Waste Directive”) establishing a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, reaffirms the ultimate responsibility of Member States for management of the spent fuel and radioactive waste generated in their respective countries. This includes establishing and maintaining national policies and frameworks, and implementing the policies by establishing and implementing National Programmes. In this context, Member States also need to assure the necessary resources and the required transparency.
The prime responsibility of the licence holder for the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management, under the supervision of its National Regulatory Authority (NRA), is also reaffirmed. Strong provisions are foreseen to assure the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management. In addition, the role of the NRA is reinforced and its independency is strengthened. Concerning transparency, Member States are obliged to ensure that the necessary information is made available to workers and the general public, and that the public is given the necessary opportunities to participate effectively in the decision-making process regarding spent fuel and radioactive waste geological disposal in accordance with national legislation and international obligations.
The Directive also has strong requirements concerning R&D as an integral part of their respective National Programmes. The present project is dealing with R&D in support of Geological Disposal of long-lived and high-level radioactive wastes, elaborating upon the possibility for Joint R&D Programming between the Member States and their different actors.

Scope and objectives

The ultimate goal of this project is to prepare a proposal for the setting up of a “Joint Programming on Radioactive Waste Disposal”. Such Joint Programming would bring together at the European level, those aspects of R&D activities implemented within national research programmes where synergy from Joint Programming is identified. The aspects of R&D activities brought together concern geological disposal of spent fuel and other high activity long lived radioactive waste, including waste management aspects  linked with their disposal and accompanying key activities (Education and Training, as well as Knowledge Management). So it is understood that the project will embrace all research-relevant issues and not be restricted to any particular sub-area. The added value of the project is that it (i) enables “programme owners” and “programme managers” in the Member States to determine on a qualified basis to which extent the benefits from joining efforts in Joint Programming will outweigh potential drawbacks, and if Joint Programming is implemented (ii) cross-European joint R&D carried by all key actors with all the benefits in effective use of resources, high-quality top R&D results, and in particular broad acceptance of the scientific-technical basis for implementing Geological Disposal.

At the highest level, the “programme owners” are the ministries in charge of the setting up of the national programmes. In this project, where it is considered the technical part of the research and development programme associated with the national programme, the “programme owners” and “programme managers” are nationally mandated actors of research (“mandated actors”). They are financing and operating R&D on radioactive waste management, including geological disposal, in their respective countries. There are three categories in this project: (i) Waste Management organisations (“WMOs”), (ii) Technical support organisations (“TSOs”) , and (iii) nationally funded Research Entities  involved in the R&D of radioactive waste management, including geological disposal (Research Entities).

Duration of the project

The project officially started on June, 1st 2015 and will last 30 months.