The competence of the Euratom Community – new (and old) challenges in the framework of a discrete legal personality


Athanase POPOV[1]


Even though the Lisbon Treaty remodelled the pillar structure of EU law by incorporating the European Community into European Union, and even though the European Coal and Steal Community treaty expired, the Euratom Community is still extant and as lively as when it was first set up. Although the integration process of the common policies in the nuclear field has been frozen since 1957, there have been recent legislative developments based on the Euratom Treaty following the Fukushima nuclear accident, and the legal debate about the said Treaty was reopened when it was envisaged to incorporate its provisions into the other EU treaties.

The legal debate on the Euratom Community has often focused on its separate legal personality: does the latter also entail the existence of a legal order distinct from that of the EU, and if yes, what are the ensuing consequences for substantive Euratom Community Law? Although it is undisputed that the Euratom Community possesses a separate legal personality, is it also possible to posit the existence of a separate legal order? The answer seems to be in the affirmative, at least in certain circumstances, which entails consequences regarding the substantive law governing certain legal acts, sometimes regardless of the legal basis and of the adoption procedure thereof. The existence of a separate legal order of the Euratom Community depends on the interpretation of Article 106a (3), EAEC, pursuant to which the provisions of the TEU and of the TFEU “shall not derogate” from the provisions of the Euratom Treaty.

Besides, recent developments of Euratom law in various fields, such as – but not limited to – the adoption of the Nuclear Safety, Nuclear Waste and the Basic Safety Standards Directives, deserve increased attention from EU law practitioners as well as from the academic community.

The article is structured as follows: 1. Legal personality of the Euratom Community; 2. The partial non-exercise of competence by the Euratom Community; 3. The introduction of a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations; Conclusion.


[1] PhD in EU law, legal expert at the European Commission, DG Energy. All views expressed in the text belong solely to the author.