At issue is the December infringement package released by the Community executive, in which the institution "decided to send a letter of notification of non-compliance to Portugal for not adopting a national radioactive waste management programme in accordance with the requirements of the Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Directive".

EU Member States had to transpose this Directive by 23 August 2013 and submit their national programme to Brussels by 23 August 2015.

Portugal now has two months to reply to the European Commission and, if there is no "satisfactory answer", the institution may decide to send a reasoned opinion to Portugal, the last step before moving on to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Radioactive waste is generated in the production of electricity in nuclear power plants, but also in the non-energy-related use of radioactive materials for medical, research, industrial and agricultural purposes. "This means that all Member States generate radioactive waste" and therefore "the Directive establishes a Community framework requiring responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste in order to ensure a high level of safety and avoid imposing undue burdens on future generations," the Community executive states.

In particular, this Community law requires Member States to develop and implement national programmes for the management of all spent fuel and radioactive waste generated on their territory, from production to disposal. The aim is to protect workers and the general public from the dangers arising from radiation.