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EURATOM

The Seventh multiannual Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for nuclear research and training activities (2007 to 2011)

Euratom research activities differ from those in other programmes in that they are carried out under a separate treaty. The European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) - set up in 1957 - is legally separate from the European Community (EC). The Member States and the Community institutions are the same under both treaties.
Although Member States retain most competencies in energy policy, whether based on nuclear or other sources, the Euratom Treaty has achieved an important degree of harmonisation at European level. It legislates for a number of specific tasks for the management of nuclear resources and research activities:

  • to promote research and ensure the dissemination of technical information;
  • to establish uniform safety standards and ensure their application;
  • to facilitate investment and ensure the establishment of the basic installations necessary for the development of nuclear energy in the EU;
  • to ensure that all users in the EU receive a regular and equitable supply of ores and nuclear fuels;
  • to prevent civil nuclear materials from being diverted to other (particularly military) purposes;
  • to foster progress in the peaceful use of nuclear energy by working with other countries and international organisations;
  • to establish joint undertakings (such as JET and the future agency for managing the Euratom contribution to ITER).

The Commission's amended FP7 proposals [PDF] include EUR 2 751 million to fund nuclear research and training activities under the Euratom Treaty - to be spent over five years (2007-2011) rather than the seven years of the EC parts of FP7, five years being the maximum allowed by the Euratom Treaty.

In FP7 Euratom there are two associated specific programmes, one covering indirect actions in the fields of fusion energy and nuclear fission and radiation protection, the other covering direct actions in the nuclear field undertaken by the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC). The JRC was initially established by the Euratom Treaty and has since become a leading institute of nuclear research in Europe.

Euratom indirect actions are managed by the Commission's Directorate-General for Research (DG RTD). The specific programmes allocates EUR 1 947 million to research into fusion energy and EUR 287 million for nuclear fission and radiation protection. EUR 517 million are reserved for nuclear activities of the JRC. The JRC is also a partner in many of the consortia implementing indirect actions in the fission area.
In general, FP7 Euratom will address the major issues and challenges in nuclear research and will contribute to the further consolidation of the European Research Area in the nuclear energy sector. It will also support existing Community policies while at the same time responding to new policy requirements.
The Euratom Framework Programme will help the creation of a critical mass and new structures in key research fields at the European level as well as to promote the free movement of ideas, knowledge and researchers. In general terms, the Euratom programmes of research aim to develop and assemble knowledge and to improved scientific and technical competences and know-how in support of safety, security, reliability, sustainability and cost-effectiveness of nuclear energy.

A. Indirect actions

Euratom indirect actions are managed by the Commission's Directorate-General for Research (DG RTD) and there are two main themes: fusion energy, with a budget of EUR 1 947 million, and nuclear fission and radiation protection with a budget of EUR 287 million. As with the specific programme Cooperation, for example, FP7 research under Euratom will be funded through schemes such as:

  • collaborative projects,
  • networks of excellence
  • coordination and support actions.

1. Fusion energy research

Fusion energy research - aiming to develop the knowledge base for ITER and its implementation, as a major step towards the creation of safe, sustainable, environmentally responsible, and economically viable prototype reactors, including:

  • Realisation of ITER - site preparation, establishing the ITER organisation and the European joint undertaking for ITER, management, technical and administrative support, construction of equipment and installations and support to the project during construction.
  • R&D in preparation of ITER operation - physics and technology research to exploit the facilities and resources in the fusion programme, including JET; assessing specific key technologies, consolidating ITER project choices, and preparing for operation.
  • Technology activities in preparation of DEMO - a 'demonstration' fusion power station.
  • R&D activities for the longer term - further development of improved concepts for magnetic confinement schemes, theory and modelling for understanding of the behaviour of fusion plasmas and coordination of Member States' research on inertial confinement.
  • Human resources, education and training in view of the immediate and medium term needs of ITER, and for the further development of fusion.
  • Infrastructures - construction of the international fusion energy research project ITER will be an element of the new research infrastructures with a strong European dimension.

Fusion energy research will receive financial support on the basis of procedures set out in:

  • the contracts of association, between the Commission and Member States or Associated Countries or entities within those states;
  • the European fusion development agreement (EFDA);
  • the European joint undertaking for ITER;
  • international agreements between Euratom and third countries covering activities in the field of fusion energy research and development, in particular the ITER agreement;
  • any other multilateral agreement concluded between the Community and associated organisations, in particular the Agreement on staff mobility;
  • Cost-sharing actions.

2. Nuclear fission and radiation protection

Nuclear fission and radiation protection - aiming to establish a sound scientific and technical basis for the safe long-term management of long-lived radioactive waste, to promote an even safer, more resource-efficient and competitive exploitation of nuclear energy and to ensure a robust and socially acceptable system of protection of man and the environment against the effects of ionising radiation; including:

  • Management of radioactive waste
  • Reactor systems
  • Radiation protection
  • Infrastructures –
  • Human resources and training

Funding schemes include:

  • collaborative projects;
  • networks of excellence;
  • coordination and support actions.
B. Direct actions

The Joint Research Centre (JRC), initially established by the Euratom Treaty, has become a leading institute of nuclear research in Europe and carries out direct research actions under Euratom.
In this context, nuclear research programmes under FP7 will focus on providing customer driven scientific and technical support to address the major issues and challenges in nuclear energy research. The aim is to support and monitor existing policies while at the same time responding to new policy requirements.

Euratom/JRC nuclear research under FP7 will contribute to the further consolidation of the European Research Area in the nuclear energy sector. This should help the creation of a critical mass and new structures in new areas of research at the European level, as well as promote the free movement of ideas, knowledge and researchers.

The JRC's nuclear actions under FP7 can be divided into the following thematic areas:

  • Nuclear waste management, environmental impact and basic knowledge
  • Nuclear safety
  • Nuclear security

The JRC will continue to act as a European reference for the dissemination of information, training and education for young scientists and will cooperate with research organisations in the Member States to carry out research activities, training and knowledge management.

At the same time, research efforts will continue to focus on waste management, environmental impacts, nuclear energy solutions and nuclear safety. In view of the growing political importance of non-proliferation issues, research in this area will also be reinforced.