The UK became a member of the European Atomic Energy Community, also known as Euratom, on 1 January 1973.

What is Euratom?

Euratom, was established in the 1950s as part of the creation of the European Community. The UK became a member of both on 1 January 1973. Euratom provides the basis for the regulation of civilian nuclear activity, implements a system of safeguards to monitor the use of civil nuclear materials, controls the supply of fissile (able to undergo nuclear fission) materials within EU member states, and funds leading international research.

Leaving Euratom

The Government have said that Euratom and the EU are “uniquely legally joined” such that “triggering Article 50 therefore also entails giving notice to leave Euratom”.

Following the Brexit referendum, concern was raised that leaving Euratom had the potential to impact the UK’s current nuclear operations, including fuel supply, medical radioisotope supply, waste management, cooperation with other nuclear states, and research, such as at the Culham Centre in Oxford.

The Government have said that preparations to leave Euratom are “on track” and that they want a close association with Euratom after Brexit. Aspects of the UK’s future relationship with Euratom are included in the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, published in November 2018. More information is available in the Library briefing papers on the UK’s EU Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration on the framework for future EU-UK relations.

Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018

The Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018 makes provision for nuclear safeguards after the UK leaves Euratom. The Act received its Royal Assent on 26 June 2018. The Library Briefing ‘Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018’ has further detail. Other functions currently provided for by Euratom are not covered by this Act.

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