While MEPs continued their debate on the European Commission’s proposal to grant a specific budget under the multiannual financial framework to the ITER nuclear fusion research and engineering project, Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger announced to the member states’ research ministers, meeting in Brussels on 18 February, that he would organise a ministerial meeting of the ITER Council in Cadarache, France, in September this year.
Construction work on the reactor at Cadarache is progressing well, the commissioner said, and the ITER Organisation (IO) was officially inaugurated on 17 January. However, he emphasised that concerns remain over the state of progress of the project, particularly concerning costs and delays. The IO has taken new measures to improve the efficiency of the project, particularly by setting up a “unique ITER team,” which comprises three national agencies taking part in the project.
The EU, the commissioner pointed out, is the main contributor (45%) to ITER, with the United States, Russia, Japan, Korea, India and China also contributing. For its part, the Commission has constantly pointed out that the budget fixed by the Council for the EU’s contribution to the construction phase of the project (€6.6 billion) should be rigorously respected. The conference in September 2013 should allow for the provision of precise information on the state of the project, the commissioner said, and it will also be an opportunity for ministers of the ITER parties to reaffirm their long-term political commitment to the success of ITER.