On 27 February 1995 the Russian Federation and the European Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on nuclear safety cooperation which contains a crucial agreement of nuclear liability. This agreement will allow engineering projects and equipment deliveries financed by the Community's TACIS programme to go further in improving nuclear safety levels in Russia. The TACIS programme is an EU initiative which provides grant finance for know-how to foster the development of market economies and democratic societies in the New Independent States and in Mongolia. Commissioner Hans van den Broek and the Russian Minister for Atomic Energy, Dr. Viktor Mikhailov, concluded the MoU, which has been under negotiation for over a year. The agreement includes a nuclear indemnity statement from the Russian Federation freeing TACIS-financed companies of suppliers from the potential legal consequences of a nuclear incident in Russia. Companies providing nuclear safety assistance, confronted by the risk of lawsuits brought by third parties in case of a nuclear incident, had been reluctant since the start of the TACIS nuclear safety programme to deliver equipment and important studies before a satisfactory legal framework was in place. Though of an interim nature, the agreement will now permit nuclear safety projects to proceed to in-depth phases and will result in increased safety improvements. Seeking a lasting solution, the Commission has urged the Russian Government to take steps towards acceding to international agreements, in particular the Vienna Convention, which provides an internationally recognized nuclear liability framework within which responsibility is exclusively channelled to the operator of installations. In recent years, a number of East European countries, including Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania, have adhered to the Convention. Most are in the process of implementing the necessary national legislation. The MoU also settles a number of other questions relating to nuclear safety assistance, including the management and use of project results.
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan