The issues surrounding the establishment of Euratom
In the mid-1950s, nuclear energy enjoyed widespread support. Many scientists and political leaders highlighted the new promise that peaceful use of the atom seemed to hold. Nuclear energy was seen as a key factor in strategic and economic terms, and was increasingly emerging as an alternative energy source for civilian use.
In November 1956, the heads of delegation of the Six attending the Intergovernmental Conference on the Common Market and Euratom instructed Louis Armand, the Chairman of French Railways (SNCF), Franz Etzel, Vice-President of the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and Francesco Giordani, the former Chairman of the Italian National Committee for Nuclear Research (CNRN), representing France, Germany and Italy respectively, to draw up a report on how Europe might use nuclear energy to meet its growing energy requirements.
Only nuclear energy seemed able to meet the growing demand for electricity, which, according to the experts, would increase threefold between 1955 and 1975. It was imperative that Europe should encourage the production of large amounts of low-cost nuclear-powered electricity.
Euratom’s missions were therefore to contribute to the rapid formation and development of Europe’s nuclear industries, to help improve the standard of living in the Member States and to further the development of trade with other countries.