Speaking to the Brussels press, Oettinger expressed his satisfaction with a compromise agreement reached the previous evening with national delegates in the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG).
According to the compromise, from 1 June, all 143 nuclear power plants in the EU will be re-assessed in a three-step process. The major novelty appears to be a "peer review" by an multinational team of seven internationally- recognised experts.
Other steps include filling in questionnaires, studies and plans, as well as the national regulator drafting a National Report checking whether the answers given by nuclear power plant operators are credible. But these measures are hardly something that has not been done previously, in one form or another.
Oettinger had previously claimed he would not put his name to a weak stress test proposal. But now the commissioner has agreed to leave the most controversial part of the stress tests for a later time, with no deadline.
France and Britain, the two EU countries with the largest nuclear industries, have since the beginning strongly opposed stringent stress tests.
Several EU countries have reportedly insisted that the "safety" and "security" of a nuclear power plant were two separate issues. The term "safety" covers natural events, while "security" covers a wide variety of malicious terrorist attacks, such as exploding a tanker close to a nuclear plant, crashing an airplane into it, or even conducting a cyber attack against the installation.
Several countries insisted that the Commission had no competence on "security" matters. Consequently, any agreement could be based on proposals put forward by an expert group.
But in the meantime, it remained to be determined which authorities in each EU countries would be responsible for the matters covered under the "security" label. In some countries, this could mean the fire service, while in others it could be the civil service, one expert explained.