Concerns are growing about the future relationship between the UK and Euratom, the umbrella body for civil nuclear safeguards across Europe, as Brexit looms.
Unite, the country’s largest union, shares the concerns of the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee which this week released a worrying report on the “profound” impact of the UK’s departure from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
Unite’s policy is that the UK remains a full member of Euratom, which controls the movement of nuclear materials across the EU. Nuclear energy currently supplies 21 per cent of the UK’s power needs.
Unite acting national officer for energy Peter McIntosh said: “We share the concerns of the BEIS select committee about the impact of Brexit on our membership of Euratom. Membership of Euratom is a red line for Unite.
“Our membership benefits UK trade by having access to the EU, the world’s largest market for nuclear materials and technology. It ensures that UK nuclear industry personnel can work in Europe and vice versa.
“It also guarantees the safeguarding of nuclear materials and that the UK meets it international obligations. It allows the UK to participate in important EU research and development projects.
“Euratom hardly got a mention in last year’s referendum debates, but if we don’t have a coherent and concrete policy on this, it could affect such everyday aspects of life as X-rays in the NHS.
“Without an agreement after Brexit, nuclear materials used by NHS services such as radiography might become unavailable.
“Euratom is not an exotic acronym, but an organisation that impacts on people’s daily lives – and that’s why the future UK membership of Euratom will swiftly move up the Brexit agenda.”