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One of the conditions laid down by the EU in 1997 was that all nuclear plants concerned had to achieve Western safety standards within 7 to 10 years.

Shutdown dates for the two condemned reactor types returned to the agenda.

The World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), its European counterpart, were put in charge of safety studies and analyses of energy policies, energy alternatives and financing.

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At the time, all but Slovenia were operating Soviet-designed reactors, but only the RBMK and the model V-230 VVER were a source of contention.

A new round of political manoeuvring was started with the invitation of reform states to join the EU.

In effect, the G7 governments thus made efficient cooperation impossible because the program interfered with the energy policies of sovereign states and also established complex administrative procedures to bog down any initiative.

Above all, it failed to strike a balance between the interests of the G7 countries with those of the Central and Eastern European states concerned.

The RBMK reactor, a graphite-moderated type with the fuel and cooling water in pressure tubes, has been much discussed following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster to one of them. It is based on a design developed for military plutonium production.

It is also known as the light water graphite reactor (LWGR). The first-generation VVER (V-230 model) is a 440 MWe (gross) pressurized water design similar to the most popular Western design (which is derived from power plants for submarines).

As a result, ten years after the Munich G7 summit, both sides had reason to be disappointed: with the exception of Chernobyl, none of the reactors considered least safe had been closed, and none of the newer plants had been upgraded within the framework of European Union (EU) or EBRD financing.

The only upgrading projects that had been or were being implemented to about 2000, Mochovce 1 & 2 (Slovakia), Paks (Hungary) and Temelin (Czech Republic), were financed privately.

The clash of political imperatives and the mundane task of supplying electricity demand is a vexed question almost everywhere in Europe today.

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