The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) is a specialized agency within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. The agency is based in Paris, France.
The mission of the NEA is to assist its member countries in maintaining and further developing environmentally friendly and economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. This is sought to be realized through international co-operation. To achieve this, the NEA works as: a forum for sharing information and experience and promoting international co-operation; a centre of excellence which helps member countries to pool and maintain their technical expertise; a vehicle for facilitating policy analyses and developing consensus based on its technical work.
The NEA’s current membership of 28 countries account for approximately 85% of the world’s installed nuclear capacity. Nuclear power accounts for almost a quarter of the electricity produced in NEA Member countries. The NEA works closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna – a specialized agency of the United Nations – and with the European Commission in Brussels. Within the OECD, there is close co-ordination with the International Energy Agency and the Environment Directorate, as well as contacts with other directorates, as appropriate.
The NEA Secretariat serves seven specialized standing technical committees under the leadership of the Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy – the governing body of the NEA – which reports directly to the OECD Council.
The standing technical committees, representing each of the seven major areas of the Agency’s programme, are comprised of member country experts who are both contributors to the programme of work and beneficiaries of its results. The approach is highly cost-efficient as it enables the Agency to pursue an ambitious programme with a relatively small staff that co-ordinates the work. The substantive value of the standing technical committees arises from the numerous important functions they perform, including:
- providing a forum for in-depth exchanges of technical and programmatic information;
- stimulating development of useful information by initiating and carrying out co-operation/research on key problems;
- developing common positions, including “consensus opinions”, on technical and policy issues;
- identifying areas where further work is needed and ensuring that NEA activities respond to real needs;
- organizing joint projects to enable interested countries to carry out research on particular issues on a cost-sharing basis.