The energy policies of most European states have changed significantly over the past 50 years, but the EURATOM Treaty, which regulates European cooperation on nuclear policy, has remained basically the same since it came into force in 1957. Several initiatives to bring in reform have failed because of a lack of political support. However, the EU reform process that followed the turn of the millennium offered a new opportunity for change. The European Convention, an important agent of this reform process, also held discussions on the future of the EURATOM Treaty. They saw an opportunity to incorporate reform of the EURATOM Treaty into the general proposals for a European Constitution and then to integrate the European treaties into a new institutional framework.
It was against this backdrop in November 2002 that adelphi was commissioned to establish possible options for reforming the EURATOM Treaty. The objectives of the project were to come up with specific recommendations for such reform, to use those recommendations as a basis for identifying strategies for implementing the reforms and to provide support in executing those strategies. In the context of another, separate sub-project, adelphi also analysed the potential for harmonising existing standards for nuclear safety within the European Union.