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Nuclear related activities create risk of a specific character. The detrimental effects of a nuclear accident do not stop at State borders, they may extend to other regions far beyond the territory of the accident State. There may be damage to individuals, to property and to the environment in several states. Even in situations for which the highest standard of safety has been achieved, the occurence of nuclear or radiological accidents cannot be completely ecluded. Consequently, it was recognised that the public needed to be assured of sufficient protection against the potential magnitude and peculiarity of risks arising from nuclear energy production and utilisation. Secondly, it was also recognised that the public was not the only entity in need of protection: fear of financially debilitating liability claims that might be instituted by innocent victims following a nuclear accident was inhibing investment in the construction of new power plants by potential owners, builders, and suppliers of equipment, services and technology. All were concerned that such claims, if successfull, could place them in a bankrupcy. Parellely, nuclear power was viewed as a possible limitless source of indigenously produced energy that would enable their economies to grow and prosper rapidly. Accomplishing these objectives meant setting aside the application of the rules of conventional Civil Law (Tort Law) as laid down in the Civil Code. Those rules, while appropriate for conventional risks, were not deemed compatible with nuclear ones. As reaction, the following international liability conventions have been concluded: -The Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy 1960; Vienna - Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage 1963. The Vienna and Paris Conventions establish comprehensive and almost identical regimes for civil liability for nuclear damage. A number of basic principles were laid down in these conventions, replacing the rules of the ordinary Tort Law. Those basic principles include: -Strick Liability; - Exclusive Liability; - Exonerations from the liability; - Limitation of liability in amount; - Congruence of the liability and coverage. After the Chernobyl Nuclear Incident, the legislators became painfully aware of the need to expand the coverage of the liability conventions as much as possible. Consequently, following conventions have been concluded: - Joint Protocol Relating to the Application of the Vienna Convention and the Paris Convention 1988; - Protocol to Amend the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage, VC Protocol 1997; - Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, Supplementary Compensation Convention 1997; - The Protocol to Amend the Paris Convention 2004
(Title in Slovak - 'Opcie a limity moznej harmonizacie rezimu zodpovednosti za jadrove skody v ramci Europskeho spoločenstva/ Europskej unie'). Currently, the legal framework for nuclear liability derives mainly from two major international treaties: The Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy and the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage. Both the Paris Convention and the Vienna Convention are governed by identical basic principles. These principles are strict (objective) liability, congruence between liability and coverage, channelling of liability exclusively onto the operator, very restricted exonerations, non-discrimination of victims, and exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of one country. In article author analyzes the legal liability framework in the EU member countries and defines the situation with nuclear liability in the European Union as a 'patchwork'. Before 2004 enlargement, the EU member states, with exception of Austria, Ireland and Luxembourg, were parties to the Paris Convention and most of them also to the Brussels Conventions. During the 2004 and 2008 enlargements, mainly Vienna Convention signatories entered the Union. Since 2005, this EU nuclear liability 'patchwork situation' came into the focus of the European Union. To this date, EU Law does not cover nuclear liability, which remains in the sphere of national legislation and international treaties respectively. In December 2007, the European Commission commissioned a Spanish Law Firm to develop and distribute a questionnaire to explore the views of EU states and of EU industry on the current nuclear liability situation with the view to harmonizing that field of law within the EU and to evaluate their results gained by the questionnaire.
The lack of a comprehensive European energy policy was reflected in the division of the European organisations and in Member States' insistence on their own national policy in the major areas of energy matters. Two of three original European Communities were linked directly to the energy ressources: the European Coal and Steel Community (Communauté européenne du charbon et de l'acier) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Communauté européenne de l'energie atomique). The basis of the European Coal and Steel Community was the Common Market, which prohibits tariffs, non-tariff barriers, quotas, actions resulting in discrimination against producers, buyers, and sellers, subsidies, and other measures whch affect he market. The Community aimed at regular distribution of energy, control of prices, the improvement of labour standards inter-State co – operation, and generation of energy. To achieve these aims, the Community collected information, defined common goals, supported investments and secured competition. The European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) was established to support the rapid development of the non-military nuclear industries in the Member States and to establish good relations in this field with other countries. In order to reach these aims, EURATOM supports research, establishes safety norms and oversees their implementation, facilitates investments, and secures and monitors distribution of fissionable material. The establishment of the Common Market is also relevant. EURATOM shares its institutional framework with other Communities. The Council and the Comission issue regulatios, directives, decisions, recommendations, and opinions. In the European Community, the energy field is regulated by the primary law (the Treaty provisions) and secondary law, ie regulations, directives, decisions, and recommendations.
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