Since its inception, ESA’s main task has been to ensure regular and equal access to supplies of nuclear materials for all users in the Community. To this end, it uses its right of option on nuclear materials produced in the Community Member States and its exclusive right to conclude contracts for supply of nuclear materials, coming from inside or outside the Community and it monitors transactions related to services in the nuclear fuel cycle.
The Supply Agency’s activities encompass:
- concluding nuclear materials and fuel supply contracts, pursuant to Article 52 of the Euratom Treaty;
- acknowledging notifications of contracts for small quantities of nuclear materials, pursuant to Article 74 of the Euratom Treaty;
- acknowledging notifications of transactions related to the provision of services in the nuclear fuel cycle, pursuant to Article 75 of the Euratom Treaty.
Nuclear materials coming from inside the Community may be exported only with the authorisation of the Commission.
Under Article 52 of the Euratom Treaty, ESA has "an exclusive right to conclude contracts relating to the supply of ores, source materials and special fissile materials coming from inside the Community or from outside".
According to Article 11.3 of the Rules of the Supply Agency (the Rules), as far as ores and source materials are concerned, a supply contract (including purchase, sale, exchange, loan/exchange contracts) should, for the purpose of its conclusion, be submitted to ESA for signature within 10 working days from its signature by the parties other than ESA.
The parties should use a dedicated submission form and, if necessary, to discuss any possible uncertainties with ESA before formally submitting such a contract.
After analysis, ESA either concludes the supply contract or refuses to conclude it within 10 working days from the date of receipt thereof (Article 11.5 of the Rules), unless it requires additional information.
If ESA agrees with the supply contract, it concludes it by signing the original copies received, keeps one original for the ESA's files and returns the remaining originals to the party that has sent them, informing it about the reference number attributed to the contract.
If ESA imposes conditions or refuses to conclude the supply contract, it should provide the parties concerned with a reasoned decision. This decision can be referred to the Commission in accordance with Article 5 (5) of the Statutes of ESA.
In the event of modifications or cancelation of the supply contract, the parties should notify ESA as soon as possible (Article 13 of the Rules).
It should be noted that any amendment to the supply contract requires the signature of the ESA in accordance with the procedure for the original supply contract (Article 13.1 of the Rules). As the supply contract should be concluded by the ESA, any assignment agreement related to it should be presented to the ESA for signature.
The same procedure as described above applies to any supply contract involving special fissile materials (essentially enriched uranium and plutonium). Contracts that involve both supply of materials and enrichment services are considered as supply contracts and are consequently concluded by the ESA under Article 52 of the Euratom Treaty.
In certain cases, the conclusion of a supply contract also requires the Commission's authorisation.
In particular, the prior Commission's authorisation is needed for:
- the export of nuclear materials produced in the Community (Article 59 (b) and 62.1 (c) of the Euratom Treaty), and
- the conclusion of supply contracts with a duration of more than 10 years (Article 60 of the Euratom Treaty).
In such cases, in addition to the procedure applicable to the conclusion of the supply contract, ESA initiates the procedure for the granting of the Commission's authorisation.
ESA should be notified about the existence of commitments relating to the processing, conversion or shaping or storage of special fissile materials and enrichment of uranium, when the material is to return to the original person or undertaking, within 10 working days from the signature of the contract (Article 16.1 of the Rules).
For notification of contracts relating to these services, the parties are requested to use the dedicated notification form.
After the receipt of such a notification, ESA informs the notifying party of the reference number attributed to the contract.
As provided for in Article 74 of the Euratom Treaty and in Commission Regulation No 66/2006/Euratom (the Regulation), any transfer, import or export of small quantities of ores, uranium and thorium source materials and special fissile materials is to be notified to ESA.
Any person who effects an import or an export and any supplier who effects a transfer of small quantities within the Community should submit to ESA a quarterly statement of the transactions thus effected (Article 3 of the Regulation).
The quarterly statements should be submitted to ESA within one month from the end of each quarter during which the respective transactions were effected and should include all information provided for in Article 3 of the Regulation.