Czech government satisfied with Temelin safety declaration

Anti-Temelin protests in Austria, photo: CTK

The Czech delegation returned home from the Copenhagen EU summit with a satisfactory deal on the Temelin nuclear power station which has for years been a thorn in the eye of neighbouring anti-nuclear Austria. In recent years some pressure groups in Austria have threatened to try and block the Czech Republic's accession to the EU unless Temelin is shut down. Austria's far-right Freedom Party went as far as to launch a nation-wide referendum in January this year in an effort to make the shutdown of Temelin a condition for Czech EU entry. Although local anti-Temelin protests are still frequent in Austria, the Czech Republic no longer needs to fear its membership in the European Union could be jeopardised by the existence of the controversial plant.

Anti-Temelin protests in Austria,  photo: CTK
The Czech Republic and Austria signed a bilateral declaration, which will be attached to the Accession Treaty. It will include a single sentence stating that the two countries will fulfil obligations from previous agreements, that is the conclusions of the "Melk agreement" and the subsequent process. The agreement committed the Czech side to clearing up a number of security concerns linked to the power station and producing an environmental impact study before putting Temelin into commercial operation. Speaking in Copenhagen, the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda welcomed the fact that the Austrians failed to push through any mention about the jurisdiction of the European Court or a reference to the Euratom treaty, which Prague did not agree with.

"It was a mutually acceptable solution because for us it is very important to exclude the jurisdiction of the (European) Court, so this is very important for us. And we just signed a political declaration that we are capable of fulfilling all the obligations and commitments which are incorporated in the Melk process and the Brussels treaty. So there is nothing new and I think for us the good result is the political declaration."

After the Copenhagen summit the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel admitted it had not been possible to push through Austria's goal of having the bilateral safety agreement enshrined in the Czech Republic's EU membership accords and put under the jurisdiction of the European Court. EU countries operating nuclear plants such as Britain, Sweden and Finland were against it.

"Today, because of the fact that some nuclear energy producers, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, did not agree to include the protocol in the final act, we set a joint declaration to make it crystal clear that the Czech Republic and Austria would fulfil the Melk conclusions. The European Council welcomes this agreement and expects the comprehensive implementation."