Nuclear coordination at the Federal Ministry

Who we are, what we do, and why we do it.

Austria’s anti-nuclear policy, as set forth in the government programme as well as in pertinent National Council resolutions, implies two strategic spheres of action: On the one hand, Austria must bring forward good arguments against using nuclear power per se, and, on the other hand, push for the constant improvement of nuclear safety. This applies at least as long as there are still nuclear power plants and/or nuclear facilities in operation across Europe.

It is a primary goal to curb nuclear risks emanating from nuclear installations that are located close to borders and that constitute a hazard for the Austrian population and the environment. On top of that, “Nuclear Coordination” has been actively deployed in the field of nuclear safety and the development of nuclear law at international as well as European level and also in the field of energy-industry cooperation with countries in transition. In this context, “Nuclear Coordination” has seen itself also as an information hub and as a think-tank of nuclear policy devised by the Federal government.

Nuclear energy cannot be reconciled with the principles of sustainable development, and does hence not constitute a cost-efficient and sustainable option for fighting the anthropogenic greenhouse-gas effect. The future lies in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. This is something of which also other countries must be convinced. This position is corroborated, among other things, by studies and rationales.

As, however, decisions on energy policy are basically a matter of national sovereignty, Austria demands the highest-possible safety level for existing installations as well as the closure of reactors constituting an unacceptable risk. Not least because of this, Austria has been advocating a harmonisation of safety requirements at the highest level as well as legally binding safety standards. “Nuclear Coordination” has been actively deployed in all those fields.

In all cases of nuclear installations harbouring potential negative implications for Austria, all legal options for safeguarding Austria’s safety interests are being exploited. This applies specifically to cross-border EIA as well as SEA procedures, but also to the consultation mechanisms provided for in the “Nuclear Information Agreements”. In this respect, “Nuclear Coordination” sees itself as a lawyer responsible for the technical proceedings for all Austrian citizens with regard to the safety interests concerning nuclear installations. In this function, the “Nuclear Coordination” team has tasked specialists with the compilation and publication of comprehensive technical expert opinions and expert statements. In this context, Austria is also advocating maximum transparency and participation. For comprehensive information on current proceedings in which also individual citizens and NGOs can get involved, please go to the website of Umweltbundesamt, the Environment Agency Austria.

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