* Summit of EU leaders to demand nuclear stress tests - draft
* Rules to benefit France's 'next generation' EPR reactors
BRUSSELS, March 23 European leaders look set to
adopt tough measures on nuclear safety this week, a draft paper
seen by Reuters showed, a move that could benefit France as it
seeks to create a selling point for its advanced EPR reactors.
European governments have swiftly reviewed their nuclear
policy in the wake of Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami,
which crippled the Fukushima power plant and released radiation
into the environment. [ID:nL3E7EM3EM]
Germany quickly suspended operations at seven ageing nuclear
plants; Austria demanded pan-European 'stress tests'; Italy
announced a one-year moratorium at new plants, and Bulgaria
froze its Belene nuclear project near a quake zone.
France, a major exporter of nuclear technology, has
advocated the safety aspects of its next generation EPR reactors
as it competes for business on international markets.
A major clampdown on nuclear safety could translate into new
revenues for French reactor maker Areva CEPFi.PA, which says
its latest generation plants are safer than older technology.
"The safety of EU nuclear plants should be reviewed, on the
basis of a comprehensive and transparent risk and safety
assessment -- stress tests," said a draft declaration prepared
for EU leaders to sign at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and
The draft also said stress tests should be developed as soon
as possible, and make full use of experts -- notably from the
Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association (WENRA).
France has already backed WENRA -- which seeks to spread
best practice in nuclear safety -- as a basis for common
security rules, at an emergency meeting of European energy
ministers earlier this week. [ID:nLDE72K0EI]
"The WENRA can be an interesting base to work on this,"
French industry minister Eric Besson told reporters after the
ministers' meeting, calling for WENRA's "third generation
security objectives to be spread across Europe".
"With the EPR, France already has a third generation product
so we have a number of assets when we talk about the future of
the nuclear industry," he added.
(Reporting by Pete Harrison and Julien Toyer, editing by
Rex Merrifield and Keiron Henderson)