The Government remain committed to putting in place all the necessary measures to ensure that the UK can operate as an independent and responsible nuclear state upon the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom.
We remain on track to have all the international agreements that the UK requires to ensure uninterrupted co-operation and trade in the civil nuclear sector ready for the end of March 2019. Significant progress in this area is marked by the signing of a new bilateral nuclear co-operation agreement (NCA) with Australia on 21 August. This is the second NCA to be signed with a priority third country in preparation for the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom, following the new bilateral agreement with the United States signed on 4 May.
The Government have completed their consultation on the draft nuclear safeguards regulations which set out the detail of a new domestic civil nuclear safeguards regime. We are analysing responses to the consultation and will publish a formal response to the consultation in the autumn. We expect to lay draft regulations before Parliament by the end of this year. The regulations, to be made under powers in the Energy Act 2013 and Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018, will enable a domestic nuclear safeguards regime to be established before the end of March 2019.
In July, we set out details of our ambition to seek a close association with Euratom—specifically, through the negotiation of a nuclear co-operation agreement (NCA) between Euratom and the UK that is more comprehensive and broader than any existing agreement between Euratom and a third country.
Simultaneously, we are ensuring that the necessary legislation is ready, and the civil nuclear industry is prepared for all potential scenarios, including the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU and Euratom at the end of March 2019 without an agreement (a no-deal scenario). We have laid a number of statutory instruments before Parliament on Euratom-related issues and have published a technical notice on civil nuclear regulation to support businesses and other interested parties in making informed plans and preparations for a no-deal scenario.
Today I will be depositing a report in the Libraries of both Houses that sets out further details on the overall progress on the Government’s implementation of their Euratom exit strategy, including EU negotiations, domestic operational readiness, legislation and international agreements. This report is being laid in accordance with section 3(4) of the Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018 and follows two voluntary quarterly updates to Parliament.
The initial commitment to quarterly reporting on a voluntary basis was set out in my written ministerial statement of 11 January 2018, Official Report, column 9WS. Section 3(4) of the Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018 provides for four statutory quarterly reporting periods in respect of which the Secretary of State must lay a report before Parliament. This is the first such report and covers the three-month reporting period from 26 June until 26 September. I plan to lay the next report on Euratom exit progress in January 2019.