The European Safeguards Research and Development Association grew out of a series of research contracts (starting in 1969) between the European Atomic Energy Community, EURATOM, and research organisations, in certain of its member states, working in research and development for safeguards purposes. These provided means of exchanging information on their work and technical assistance, and of preventing unnecessary duplication.
What is ESARDA?
ESARDA, the European Safeguards Research and Development Association, is comprised of European organisations actively involved in the Research and Development of Nuclear Safeguards.
Nuclear Safeguards can be described as a verification system that works within the framework of international nuclear material control and non-proliferation. It is applied to maintain the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The objective is to make sure that civil nuclear material, which could otherwise be used in the fabrication of nuclear weapons, is exclusively used for peaceful applications.
The control of civil nuclear material is mandatory within the EU territory in line with the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (“Euratom Treaty”) which entered into force in 1958. The Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force in 1970, provides for Nuclear Safeguards on a world-wide basis.
The 1960s were a period of intense R&D activity in safeguards, due to the rapid expansion of nuclear energy production. ESARDA was created in 1969.
The ESARDA network includes national regulatory authorities (carrying out the controls), operators of nuclear facilities (those being controlled), and research centres and universities (carrying out the safeguards-related R&D).
The European Commission represents the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM).
Representatives from other organisations that are not member parties, amongst them the IAEA, ABACC and INMM, regularly take part in ESARDA’s activities
ESARDA is an association established by an Agreement, which has legal force according to the Belgian law. In 2020 there were 32 Parties to this agreement plus 14 Associated members and several Individual members.
To view the updated list of Parties and Associated members visit the Who's who section.
The Association is ruled by a Steering Committee that consists of all Parties of the Agreement. Each Party has one vote. Associated and Individual members may attend the meetings but do not have any voting rights.
The Steering Committee elects a President and a vice President for a duration of two years.
The Association has a Secretary, who is in charge of the daily management.
The Association is managed by an Executive Board, whose members are appointed by the Steering Committee for fours years, in representation of 7 Parties. The Euratom Safeguards Office has a permanent observer in the Executive Board.
The Steering Committee has final responsibility for all ESARDA activities including:
The Steering Committee has the power to discuss the general ESARDA policy according to the purpose of ESARDA agreement:
- to improve the quality, the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of nuclear material safeguards, including nuclear material management and accountancy;
- to seek the views of all those concerned in the application of safeguards so that problems preventing their effective, efficient and economic application may be identified and solved;
- to facilitate collaboration on research and development in safeguards and related fields and its application;
- to propose research and development programmes in the light of identified safeguards and nuclear non-proliferation topics which require investigation and to facilitate collaboration;
- to take benefit and stimulate synergies with other verification regimes and technologies;
- to increase the understanding of safeguards by improving communication with the public and other experts.
The Steering Committee takes resolutions and decisions to be implemented by the Executive Board.
The Agreement shall be implemented by the Executive Board that has the widest powers for its implementation and management. It can meet as often as appropriate, on the initiative of any Board member.
The Executive Board has the power to establish Working Groups, whenever required.
The tasks, the duration and the chairperson of each Working Group shall be specified by the Executive Board.
The Executive Board is also in charge of the scientific guidance of the Agreement.
- The ESARDA Agreement is implemented by the Executive Board.
- The Executive Board has the widest powers for the implementation and the management of the Agreement insofar as these are not reserved for the Steering Committee. It shall meet as often as appropriate, on the initiative of any Board Member.
- The Executive Board has the power to draw up rules to govern the functioning of the Board itself and of the Steering Committee. These rules will apply after endorsement by the Steering Committee.
- The Executive Board has the power to establish Working Groups, whenever required. The tasks, the duration and the chairperson of each Working Group shall be as specified by the Executive Board.
- The Executive Board is also in charge of the scientific guidance of the ESARDA Agreement.
- The Executive Board consists of the representatives of five Parties, elected by the Steering Committee for a period of four years, and by the President and the Vice-President, also elected by the Steering Committee for a period of two years. Every two years two or three seats of the Board are vacated alternatively.
- In principle the Vice-President shall be the President-elect. The President and the Vice-President shall not represent their respective Parties, but the interests of the ESARDA members.
- A representative of the European Commission services in charge of the safeguards implementation attends the meetings of the Executive Board as an observer.
- Board Membership is such as to give a reasonable geographical representation across the ESARDA membership.
- Each member of the Executive Board has one vote in Board meeting decisions and may represent not more than one other member of the Board. The decisions are taken by an ordinary majority.
Term of Office
- The term of office of an Executive Board member automatically ends if it ceases to represent the Party to which it belongs.
- Any Board member Party shall appoint a replacement, if its representative is no longer available.
ESARDA has established standing Working Groups dealing with various technical subjects. They are the key bodies of ESARDA and are of two basic types:
The discipline-oriented Working Groups
- Techniques and Standards for Destructive Analysis
- Techniques and Standards for Non-Destructive Analysis
- Containment and Surveillance
Other Working Groups on specific issues
- Editorial Committee
- Export Control
- Final Disposal
- Implementation of Safeguards
- Material Balance Evaluation
- Training and Knowledge Management
- Verification Technologies and Methodologies
International Working Group
- Gamma Spectrometry Techniques for U/Pu Isotopics
Working Groups having recently reached their objectives, whose implementation activities are incorporated into the “Implementation of Safeguards” WG:
- Fuel Fabrication Plants
- Nuclear Material Accountancy and Audit Focus Group
The following Working Groups existed previously:
- BFC - Back End of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
- LEU - Low Enriched Uranium
- NA/NT - Novel Approaches / Novel Technologies
Each Working Group has a Chair whose responsibility it is to ensure that the Working Group achieves its objectives.
The Secretariat is in charge of:
- the administration of ESARDA, in close contact with the President;
- the symposia scientific secretariat;
- the Bulletin publication and distribution; the publication of proceedings of symposia and internal meetings.
The Secretariat acts as a general focal point for the Association and fulfils a public relations rôle, externally promoting ESARDA.
The Steering Committee appoints a Secretary of ESARDA on the nomination of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
Within the objectives of ESARDA, communication is one of the most important.
ESARDA is more and more considered as a European forum / think tank in safeguards, non proliferation and related fields.
In this context it was felt necessary to give more attention to the publication process, therefore an Editorial committee responsible for the following communication activities was setup:
- Editorial policy of ESARDA;
- Bulletin elaboration and publication;
- Connector Newsletter editing and distribution;
- Website follow up (e:g: WG annual reports, Technical Sheets and updates, etc.);
- Act as Scientific committee for the ESARDA Annual Meetings (internal or symposia): selection of papers, programme elaboration, and feed back;
- Other meetings such as Topical Meetings, joint ESARDA-INMM, etc.