Regulatory Cooperation Forum (RCF)
At the 2009 Conference on “Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems” in Cape Town, South Africa, regulatory bodies of Member States agreed to establish a regulator-to-regulator forum to improve collaboration and coordination for regulatory capacity building among Member States with established nuclear power programme and those considering the introduction or expansion of such programme. In June 2010, the Regulatory Cooperation Forum (RCF) was established. The IAEA was invited to provide the Secretariat to the RCF.
- To assist in the development of effectively independent and robust nuclear safety regulatory bodies.
- To achieve and sustain a high level of nuclear safety, based on self-assessment by a Member State of its regulatory body’s needs, as identified in the IAEA safety standards and guidance.
- To optimize the collaboration and cooperation among RCF members to meet these needs identified.
The RCF will be guided by the following principles:
- The RCF is a regulator-to-regulator forum driven by Member States.
- RCF activities are limited to regulatory infrastructure development and capacity building for nuclear safety in nuclear power plants. Security and safeguards, unless directly associated with safety, are not areas included within the framework of RCF activities at this time but may be considered in the future.
- RCF activities are focused on nuclear power plant regulatory support for Member States committed through national actions to develop a nuclear power programme for the first time and those considering the expansion of existing nuclear power programme.
- While the RCF can provide support and advice, Member States must assume full responsibility for their respective regulatory roles and responsibilities, including ownership and management of their own regulatory body development.
- The RCF will respect existing and future arrangements (bilateral or otherwise), including the disposition or application of resources, among its Member States.
- The RCF will make all efforts to optimize regulatory support programme and avoid unnecessary duplication.
- Each forum participant will make its own financial arrangements for participating in RCF activities.
- Each Member State will strive to share regulatory experiences and lessons learned.
- Although RCF members with mature nuclear power programme would normally be providers of support, embarking countries or those expanding their programme who are normally recipients of support may also be considered providers.
Membership of the RCF is open to all Member States of the IAEA. Participants in RCF activities will normally be senior representatives, from regulatory bodies in Member States and from other providers, including the IAEA, European Commission (EC) and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Observers from other international or regional organizations may be invited to attend meetings or participate in RCF activities on a case by case basis or continuing basis by decision of the Steering Committee.
Current RCF members are the following:
Bangladesh, Belarus, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, International Atomic Energy Agency, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria, Nuclear Energy Agency, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Vietnam.
To join the RCF, the Member State senior regulator, or designee, should contact the RCF Secretariat by e-mail or letter to request membership.
A Steering Committee shall be established to ensure transparency, openness, and efficient and effective planning and implementation of RCF activities. The Steering Committee will make all RCF policy decisions by consensus and will :
- Comprise senior representatives from regulatory authorities in different Member States and may include members such as the EC or NEA;
- Appoint a Chairperson and a Vice-Chairperson for a term of three years from a recipient and a provider Member State. The Chairperson will lead activities and act as a spokesperson for the RCF;
- Normally comprise seven to ten members with composition to be about 1/3 recipients and 2/3 providers represented by various regions. New member requests are to be presented to the Steering Committee for approval;
- Meet approximately once every six months through face-to-face meetings to review and revise policy, establish general concepts for the RCF and agree to proposals for RCF support to its members. Additional meetings may be convened by the Chairperson or the Vice-Chairperson, as necessary;
- Review the RCF Terms of Reference and the RCF Programme Plan periodically; and
- Review the continuing need for RCF. If no further need is identified, the Steering Committee may recommend to the RCF general membership termination of the RCF altogether.
The current members of the Steering Committee are:
Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Poland, the Russian Federation, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Vietnam
- An RCF general meeting will be normally held once per year during the IAEA General Conference or other significant meetings for regulatory authorities. Senior representatives from RCF members are expected to attend and actively participate.
- A secure RCF website will be established and maintained to share information and promote work of the RCF. A public version of the RCF web site will be made available through the IAEA’s Global Nuclear Safety and Security Network in the RegNet environment.
- Working groups will be established for specific tasks. Membership of these groups will be nominated or delegated by RCF members. These working groups will be disbanded once their tasks are completed.
- The RCF will continuously evaluate its activities and provide feedback for continuous improvement.
- RCF members will make all reasonable efforts to actively participate in RCF activities and be responsive and supportive to the needs of the forum.
Attaching strategic importance to supporting nuclear safety and security infrastructures and capacity building in Member States, the IAEA will, subject to the availability of resources, promote and facilitate the RCF Programme Plan. The IAEA will provide general and professional support staff through the IAEA regular budget for administrative and IT support activities, within the framework of established Agency practices.
The IAEA will provide an RCF Secretariat which will inter alia:
- Facilitate RCF meetings, promote coordination and collaboration among the provider and recipient members and coordinate other necessary RCF activities;
- Maintain the RCF Terms of Reference and Programme Plan;
- Establish and maintain RCF websites to optimize communications to both internal and external stakeholders;
- Advise the Steering Committee on programme conduct, including any needed programme changes;
- Identify and analyze lessons learned and share them with the RCF Steering Committee for potential programme changes;
- Consistent with the IAEA Nuclear Safety Action Plan, reach out to Member States to encourage their membership and participation in the RCF and its activities; and
- Manage extra-budgetary funds contributed to the RCF for its activities.
To be a suitable candidate for RCF support, the recipient Member State must have shown a strong commitment towards the development of a nuclear power programme or expansion of an existing programme. The following criteria should be reviewed by the RCF Steering Committee before a decision is made to provide RCF support. Note that all criteria do not need to be met before deciding to provide RCF support.
- The recipient Member State regulatory body is a member of the RCF and has requested support through the RCF Secretariat.
- The nuclear safety regulatory body has been established and funded through national legislation.
- Milestone 1 (Ready to Make a Knowledgeable Commitment to a Nuclear Programme) of the IAEA’s Milestones Document has been completed, or is near completion.
- Training and/or IAEA advisory service or regional network support on Safety Guide, Establishing the Safety Infrastructure for a Nuclear Power Programme, has been received.
- A self-assessment, based on SSG 16 (see item above), to identify its regulatory body needs has been completed and support gaps have been identified.
- The candidate country has existing or near term planned bi-lateral or multi-lateral arrangements with countries having mature nuclear power programme.
- The candidate recipient is a Contracting Party to the Convention on Nuclear Safety.
Consideration will also be given as to whether the candidate recipient country has received an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) and/or Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS).
All Member States participating in the RCF will make their own arrangements for their own costs. In certain situations, where funding is needed for transportation and expenses, an RCF general budget, if available from extra-budgetary contributions to the IAEA, may fund certain activities on a case-by-case basis. This will be done at the discretion of the RCF Secretariat, in consultation with IAEA management and the RCF Steering Committee, if needed. The RCF general budget will not fund recipient or provider staff time.
Funds may be available to support RCF recipients through the IAEA’s Technical Co-operation (TC) Programme. For these situations, it is essential that recipient countries include participation in the RCF in the appropriate TC programme project during the design phase of the project.
Additionally, there may be situations where Member States or external organizations, such as the European Commission, may fund costs related to activities by mutual arrangement.
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