Press release
Paris, 28 September 1998


Forty years of international co-operation in the field of nuclear energy: the NEA's fortieth anniversary

An international array of some 150 government experts in the fields of energy, nuclear energy and the environment will assemble on 30 September 1998 in Paris (France) to mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). The theme of the anniversary session, "The contribution of nuclear energy to a new global age", has been chosen in order to reflect on the extent to which nuclear energy will be relied upon for providing electricity in the future.

The importance that the world community attaches to minimising greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change, and the need for national authorities to be prepared for a surge in world energy demand over the next decades, make it necessary to ensure the availability of all energy options under conditions of sustainable development.

The future of the nuclear energy contribution will depend, inter alia, on how industry and governments adjust to the new parameters of the energy market. In particular, it will be indispensable to continue improving the competitiveness of nuclear power in the context of a deregulated electricity market while maintaining adequate safety levels and pursuing enhancements where possible, making further progress in the management and disposal of long-lived waste, and, more generally, achieving better public understanding of nuclear energy. In pursuing these objectives, international co-operation can play a key role.

The special NEA anniversary session will be chaired by Mr. Donald Johnston, Secretary-General of the OECD, and Mr. Christian Prettre (France), Chairman of the Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy.

The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) was established in 1972, succeeding the European Nuclear Energy Agency (ENEA) which had been founded in 1958.

The NEA is a semi-autonomous body within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) located in the Paris area in France. The objective of the Agency is to contribute to the development of nuclear energy as a competitive, safe, and environmentally acceptable energy source through co-operation among its participating countries.

NEA membership currently consists of 27 countries across Europe, America and the Asia-Pacific region. It represents 85 per cent of the world installed nuclear capacity and includes most of the more advanced countries in the nuclear field. In addition, the European Commission takes part in the work of the NEA and there is a co-operation agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The NEA contributes to the viability of the nuclear power option through international co-operation aimed at pooling the expertise of its Members, disseminating information, and developing consensus on important issues. The NEA pursues these objectives through a balanced programme addressing such key areas as nuclear safety and licensing, radioactive waste management, radiation protection, economics and technology of the nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear science, nuclear law and liability, and public information. The NEA Data Bank offers scientific services to a wide range of users in laboratories, industry and universities throughout the world.

The NEA also co-operates with non-member countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEEC) and the former Soviet Union (NIS) in the fields of nuclear safety and nuclear law. One of the main goals of this co-operation is to assist these countries in planning, developing and carrying out nuclear safety research and in developing nuclear safety culture.

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