Bulgarian Minister of Energy Milko Kovachev has urged the Commission to speed up its inspection of Bulgaria’s nuclear power plant at Kozloduy.
In a letter to the Commission, Mr Kovachev insisted that the EU set an exact date for inspections on Units 3 and 4 of the Kozloduy plant. The Bulgarian government is concerned with the delay of the inspection because safety of the Kozloduy plant is a key issue in the country's accession negotiations with the Union.
In its accession negotiations with the EU, Bulgaria agreed last year to shut down to old nuclear reactors in 2006 although they had been modernised. The Commission and the Bulgarian Government also agreed that an EU mission would be sent to inspect the reactors in 2003. Bulgaria is hoping that the mission would issue a clean bill of health for the two reactors and that accession negotiations on the energy chapter would be reopened.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a positive report on Kozloduy units 3 and 4 in 2002. Bulgaria would suffer a loss of 20 per cent of its energy producing capacities by closing the two units. Bulgaria is one of the main exporters of electricity in southeast Europe, providing 30 per cent of the region's energy needs and earning 250 million dollars a year from its electricity exports.
Bulgaria is due to complete its accession negotiations with the EU in 2004 and expects to be admitted to full membership in 2007.