The European Commission has proposed a new directive that it says will "significantly reduce the risks" of operating nuclear power plants.

The European Commission has proposed a new directive that it says will "significantly reduce the risks" of operating nuclear power plants.

The EU executive body is proposing the introduction of mandatory EU-wide reviews of nuclear safety every six years as well as a requirement for increased transparency for information about nuclear safety from regulators and nuclear power plant operators.

The proposed directive has been drawn up in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan and the subsequent nuclear stress tests carried out across the EU.

The six-yearly reviews proposed in the directive would be similar to the recent stress tests and would cover a range of pre-agreed topics. Inspectors would be sent to countries if reviews were delayed or not carried out properly, says the Commission.

"It’s up to Member States to decide if they want to produce nuclear energy or not," said Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. "The fact remains that there are 132 nuclear reactors in operation in Europe today. Our task at the Commission is to make sure that safety is given the utmost priority in every single one of them."

The directive also proposes that in the case of accidents, the release of radioactivity into the environment is practically eliminated, and that each nuclear power plant undergoes a safety review at least every ten years. Strict accident management guideline should be developed and emergency response centres established that are protected against radioactivity, earthquakes or flooding.

The Commission also wants national regulators to define and publish a strategy that sets out how the public is informed about the operation of nuclear power plants as well as accidents.