The Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP) entered a new phase on 14 December 2021. Having been successfully operating for 15 years, and widely recognised as an effective framework for regulatory co-operation and harmonisation, the MDEP Policy Group, its governing body, agreed to conclude the existing MDEP terms of reference and adopt a new organisational structure. As such, the MDEP will continue in its role as a unique multinational initiative leveraging the resources and knowledge of national regulators to review new reactor designs.
Between 2006 and 2021 the MDEP published 39 Common Positions on a wide variety of technical topics identified during design reviews. Each Common Position is intended to provide guidance to the regulators in reviewing new or unique areas, and have been widely shared with the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as other standards-setting organisations, for consideration in their programmes. The MDEP has also produced 43 Technical Reports to better identify similarities and understand the differences in national requirements and practices. The topics for technical reports were selected based on the issues arising from regulatory activities in member countries, safety implications, or the general need to have a better understanding of the topic. This facilitated sharing experiences and is considered to be the basis of work on harmonisation.
The newly constituted MDEP Management Board will start operation in January 2022 and will consider options for wider international co-operation as new reactor technologies are presented to national regulators for assessment. One of its first tasks will be to thank Mark Foy, Chief Executive and Chief Nuclear Inspector at the United Kingdom Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), for his leadership of the MDEP Policy Group in the lead up to the transition.