George Osborne is enjoying himself and the front page of today’s Standard basically implies Brexit will give you cancer. This will apparently be a consequence of the UK leaving Euratom – the European Atomic Energy Community. Allegedly it will mean nuclear scientists and material will not be able to cross borders. Which will be odd given Britain is, with France, one of Europe’s only nuclear armed states.
The UK also hosts the Joint European Torus (JET), the world’s largest operational nuclear fusion device. The JET project – carried out by a team of 350 international scientists – is formally a joint venture used by more than 40 EU laboratories. Euratom’s flagship nuclear fusion research project is the ‘International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor’ (ITER), the world’s largest planned nuclear fusion experiment. Located in the south of France, it is funded and run by a seven-party consortium composed of the EU, India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the US. Six out of the seven parties are not members of Euratom. Expect that to increase to seven out of eight.
Since 2014, Switzerland has participated in Euratom programmes as an associated state. As of 2016 the community had co-operation agreements of various scopes with eight countries: the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and South Africa. After Brexit it will increase to co-operation with nine states.
According to Article 101 of the Euratom Treaty, ‘The Euratom Community may, within the limits of its powers and jurisdiction, enter into obligations by concluding agreements or contracts with a third state, an international organisation or a national of a third state’. So the UK could work with Euratom as a third country, as can individual Britons.
By acquiring the status of third country the UK might join countries such as China and Russia, with which Euratom has established a ‘structured dialogue to identify a common set of research topics of mutual interest in which cooperation can take place on a shared-cost basis’. Alternatively under Article 206 of the Euratom Treaty, ‘The Community may conclude with one or more States or international organisations agreements establishing an association involving reciprocal rights and obligations, common action and special procedures’. That is the basis on which in 2014 Switzerland became an Associated Country to Euratom.
Did Guido mention that the UK is one of the biggest funders of Euratom projects? Osborne’s latest instalment of ‘Project Fear’ is not even up to his pre-referendum nonsense…
UPDATE: Guido forgot to mention the ONR which will take on Euratom responsibilities. Britain was after all a nuclear power before Euratom existed.