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IAEA Director General Meets with EU: Human Health, Energy and Non-Proliferation


IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met with President of the European Council Charles Michel during his visit to Brussels, Belgium. (Photo: European Union)

The European Union (EU) is a close and valued partner in nuclear security and safeguards and can look to the IAEA for support in furthering sustainable development around the world, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told senior EU officials this week in a two-day trip to Brussels. Mr Grossi’s visit saw him meet with European Council President Charles Michel, European Energy Commissioner Energy Kadri Simson, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/ European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell, among other senior officials.

In his meeting with the European Council President on Wednesday, Mr Grossi thanked the EU for its unwavering support to various areas of the IAEA’s work: “The IAEA and the European Union share the common goals of solidifying global peace and ensuring nuclear safety. The EU’s invaluable resources and expertise help the IAEA fulfil its aims and supports nuclear safety and security around the world.” The two discussed non-proliferation issues and how the EU and IAEA can further support one another in strengthening global nuclear safeguards and verification.

Mr Grossi also encouraged Mr Michel to call upon the IAEA on issues where it can utilise the Agency’s expertise, for example in the use of nuclear techniques and applications to address cancer and climate change challenges. They discussed several IAEA peaceful uses initiatives, including ZODIAC, an IAEA project to assist countries in nuclear and nuclear -derived techniques for the rapid detection of pathogens that cause animal diseases, including ones that spread to humans.; and the Agency’s activities in fighting cancer.

In a meeting with Koen Doens, Director General at the EU’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships, Mr Grossi discussed ways in which the Agency can more closely collaborate with the EU using nuclear science and technology to advance sustainable development and human health programmes. Mr Grossi highlighted the potential for the IAEA and the EU to expand their cooperation in fighting cancer and zoonotic diseases, and to address global and transboundary issues, such as plastic pollution through the Agency’s NUTEC Plastics initiative.

Nuclear energy for climate and stability

On Thursday Mr Grossi met with EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson to discuss the role that nuclear energy plays in providing affordable, reliable and stable low-carbon power in the EU.

Much of the EU’s energy-focus is on addressing carbon emissions. The EU has committed itself to achieving carbon-neutrality by 2050, partly by transitioning to low-carbon energy sources. Central to that transition is an EU taxonomy classification system that will determine which investments are considered environmentally sustainable. Ten EU member states are calling for nuclear power to be included in the taxonomy, and Mr Grossi spoke with Ms Simson about the future role of low-carbon nuclear power in the EU.

According to Eurostat, more than a quarter of EU’s electricity is generated by nuclear power, amounting to half of the bloc’s clean electricity. After the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident, Germany decided to phase out nuclear power, while Belgium confirmed plans to eventually exit nuclear and Spain elected not to build new plants. Thirteen of the EU’s 27 members currently use nuclear power, with four reactors under construction in Finland, France and Slovakia for 4 gigawatts in new electrical capacity. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania aim to build new reactors, while countries like Poland are considering adding nuclear to their energy mix to reduce reliance on coal and oil.

Mr Grossi and Ms Simson discussed developments in nuclear fusion and small modular reactors, and the merits of nuclear power beyond electricity generation, particularly in producing hydrogen, which the EU sees as a key tool for decarbonising hard to abate sectors like industry and transport.


In a meeting with Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/ European Commission Vice-President, discussions focused on safeguards and non-proliferation issues. The Director General thanked Mr Borrell for the important and timely exchange and for the EU’s support to its verification work.

In Brussels, Mr Grossi also met with senior officials from the European External Action Service, including Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Enrique Mora, to discuss non-proliferation issues.

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