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Euratom Safeguards

​The safeguards carried out by the European Commission correspond to physical and accounting verifications of nuclear materials in order to ensure that they are used in accordance with the operator's declaration.

Published on 29 March 2024

The Euratom treaty​

Article 77 of the Euratom Treaty provides that the Commission shall satisfy itself that:

► Ores, source materials and special fissile materials are not diverted from their intended uses as declared by the users;

The objective of the European Commission's inspectors is to verify that the notified nuclear materials are indeed intended for their declared uses (this is known as " conformity " control). It is limited to the territory of the Member States of the European Union. It is a regional control.

►The provisions relating to supply and any particular safeguarding obligations assumed by the Euratom Community under an agreement concluded with a third State or an international organisation are complied with.

The Commission ensures that certain provisions of the contracts declared to the Euratom Supply Agency (ESA) are complied with and that commitments made, for example, in Euratom / third States agreements or to the IAEA, are respected.

Article 84 specifies that "the safeguards may not extend to materials intended to meet defence requirements which are in the course of being specially processed for this purpose or which, after being so processed, are, in accordance with an operational plan, placed or stored in a military establishment."

The consequence of this provision is that in France, the only remaining EU Nuclear Weapon State since the Brexit, certain nuclear materials are not subject to Euratom safeguards: these are referred to as “non-safeguarded materials". These nuclear materials assigned to defence needs are of course subject to the relevant national regulations and under the control of the French authorities responsible for nuclear safety and security.

Article 197 defines the nuclear materials concerned: plutonium, uranium and thorium.

The Commission Regulation (Euratom)​

The provisions for the application of Chapter VII of the Euratom Treaty are detailed in Regulation (EURATOM) n°302/2005, which applies "to any person or undertaking setting up or operating an installation for the production, separation, reprocessing, storage or other use of source material or special fissile material".

The European Commission has also issued a Recommendation (2006/40/Euratom of 15 December 2005) concerning guidelines for the application of Regulation (Euratom) n°302/2005 and a Recommandation (2009/120/Euratom of 11 February 2009) on the implementation of a nuclear material accountancy and control system by operators of nuclear installations.

Application of Euratom Safeguards in France​

The European Commission has verified all French facilities holding nuclear materials for civilian use since 1960.
French operators must:
         Keep (local) accountancy records and operating records and reports;
      Transmit their declarations to the European Commission in Luxembourg, via the French authorities (the CTE and its technical support, the IRSN):
            -          Basic Technical Characteristics (BTC) ;
            -          Programme of activities;
            -          Accounting reports, including Inventory Change Report (ICR), Material Balance Report (MBR), Physical Inventory Listing (PIL);
         Prior import/export notifications.

On-site verifications are subject to various types of inspections: BTC verification, routine inspection, physical inventory verification, short notice and unannounced inspection.

France is the most inspected country in the European Union, representing approximately 36% of the European Commission's inspection effort (2020 EC data).​

In 2022, Euratom conducted 297 inspections in nuclear facilities, for an inspection effort of 1 390 person.days. More concretely, it means that on average, more than 5 Euratom inspections are carried out every week in France.

Key figures of Euratom Safeguards in France (2022)        ​​


French nuclear sites regularly monitored by the European Commission


Material Balance Areas controlled by the European Commission


Euratom inspections in France


Joint Euratom and IAEA inspections in France

1 390

Persons.days of Euratom inspections effort


Escort of Euratom inspections by the French authorities

312 189

Accountancy lines for nuclear material inventory changes submitted to the European Commission


Initial programmes of activities planned for the year in French facilities, sent to the European Commission


Transfers of nuclear materials announced to the European Commission through 1 533 notifications (including intra-EU transfers)​