ENA 2006: Riding the winds of change
When the inaugural European Nuclear Assembly
(ENA) took place in November 2004, the first green shoots
of the nuclear recovery were just beginning to appear after a
long anti-nuclear winter. Twelve months down the road and the
revival has gathered momentum. This was clear for all to see at
ENA 2006, which took place in Brussels, on 28
& 29 March, under the chairmanship of Mike parker, CEO of
BNFL in the UK.
The upbeat mood at the conference reflected the
sense of renewed optimism and confidence felt by the European
nuclear industry as global energy is now firmly established at
the top of the political agenda. The publication of the EU’s
Energy Green Paper, the importance given to energy at the recent
European Spring Council (Summit), and the fact that security of
energy supply and climate change considerations are driving the
energy debate in several European countries, combined to make
the timing of ENA 2006 especially appropriate.
Among the 220 delegates from 25 countries who
attended the conference to discuss the burning nuclear issues
of the day, were the EU Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs;
ministry officials from France, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland;
MEPs, industry leaders, environmentalists and academics.
Another significant factor at this year’s
ENA was the presence of so many representatives
of the European institutions. Around 25% of all the delegates
who attended were from the European Commission and the European
Parliament. There were also speakers from the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development and Roland Schenkel, Director General
of the European Commission’s the Joint Research Centre JRC).
This shows how FORATOM’s extensive lobbying of Europe’s
decision-makers is bearing fruit and underlines a subtle change
of attitude among administrators and politicians towards the issue
of nuclear energy. The European nuclear industry has engaged in
an active debate with the European institutions and, fuelled by
the need to address the security of supply and climate change
problems that preoccupy so many European citizens, Europe’s
decision-makers are now more prepared to take onboard what the
industry is saying.
But there were also experts from beyond Europe,
including: Admiral (retired) Frank L. “Skip” Bowman,
President and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute in the US; Richard
Garwin, an eminent physicist from the Thomas J. Watson Research
Centre in the US who and Elizabeth Dowdeswell, President of the
Nuclear Waste Management Organisation of Canada.
The agenda revolved around plenary sessions,
a Ministerial Roundtable discussion featuring government officials
from Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland and four panel debates devoted
to key issues facing governments and industry alike.
Among those issues highlighted during the conference
was nuclear new-build in Europe and worldwide, nuclear energy’s
contribution to meeting the goals of the EU’s Lisbon Strategy,
investing in nuclear and public perceptions as a catalyst for
The press conference on 28 March, which was attended
by 19 journalists, featured keynote statements from industry leaders
on the subject of nuclear new-build in Europe. In all, 27 media
representatives covered the press conference and/or conference
– including 3 TV stations. At least twenty interviews were
arranged between journalists and ENA 2006 speakers
and delegates. This illustrated how the media is more and more
plugging into the nuclear debate, reflected the heightened interest
of their readers in energy matters. More informed and objective
reporting based on the facts can only help to positively influence
public acceptance of nuclear energy and make more and more people
embrace it as the energy option of choice for the future.
The number of delegates in attendance and the
range of expert speakers, senior politicians and highly-qualified
scientific experts present to take part in the lively debates
underlined that ENA 2006 was an undoubted success.
The conference has quickly established itself as the main event
on the European nuclear industry’s calendar.
All the speeches and presentations from ENA 2006
are now online on the ENA website (www.ena2006.org),
together with audio streaming, photos and press clippings.
Make a note in your diary now – ENA 2008 will take place,
in Brussels, on 8 & 9 April 2008!