Thematic priority - Fusion Energy Research of the specific framework programme for the European Atomic Energy Community within the multiannual framework programme 2002-2006. Nuclear energy, which accounts for some 35% of the EU's total electricity consumption, is part of current debates on the fight against climate change and the reduction of Europe's dependency of outside energy sources such as oil and gas. However, significant problems are related to the conventional production of nuclear energy. There are hopes that controlled nuclear fusion is one of the long term options for the EU's energy supply, in particular for the emission-free production of base-load electricity. The priority is to make progress towards demonstrating the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy and assessing its sustainable qualities. The EU is currently competing to provide the International Thermo-Nuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), whose construction could begin as soon as international negotiations have concluded.Links will be established with national programmes and networking will be promoted with third countries, in particular, USA, the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (NIS), Canada and Japan. The Community, the Member States and countries associated with the activities covered by the Euratom Framework Programme will continue to work within the framework of an integrated programme of activities.There are hopes that fusion energy could, in the second half of the century, contribute to an emission-free large-scale production of base-load electricity. Global research in this area is already very advanced and the long-term objective is the creation of a fusion power plant in Europe.The research priorities of the Specific Programme are the following: _ Associations' programme in physics and technology- R&D in fusion physics and plasma engineering, focusing on the preparation of the ITER operation and the study and evaluation of toroidal magnetic confinement formulas, with in particular the continuation of the construction of the Wendelstein 7-X "stellarator" and operation of the existing installations in the Euratom Associations;- Structured R&D activities in fusion technology, in particular research on fusion materials and participation in the R&D activities for the decommissioning of JET, which is foreseen at the end of its operations;- Investigations of socio-economic aspects, focusing on evaluation of economic costs and social acceptability of fusion energy to complement studies on safety and environmental aspects; coordination of the Member States' civil research activities on inertial confinement and possible alternative concepts; dissemination of results and the diffusion of information to the public; mobility and training.In contributing to the Associations' programme, priority will be given to multilateral actions to focus activities on common projects such as those directly related to operation on JET, ITER and/or staff training. Depending on a decision on the realisation of ITER and its timing, the current Community support to the Associations activities will be adjusted, and the phasing out of the exploitation of a number of facilities will be considered. Adequate means shall be ensured to maintain a strong European coordination of the fusion activities, which has demonstrated its usefulness over the years. The extent of the accompanying domestic programme in fusion physics and technology will depend on the level of the European share in ITER and on its location. This could entail investments aiming at maintaining experimentation on fusion devices at world-class level in Europe beyond the start of operation of ITER and an adequate programme of technological development._ Exploitation of the JET facilitiesThe JET facilities will continue to be exploited in the framework of the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA). The aim is to prepare the ITER operation by completing the exploitation of the performance enhancements currently under way. The use of the JET facilities should be phased out progressively according to the schedule of the ITER realisation and to the availability of the necessary financial resources.- Next Step/ITERThe Proposal for the Euratom Framework Programme (2002-2006) includes the continuation of Next Step activities with a view to participating in its construction in the second half of the period. However, since decisions on ITER depend on international negotiations, the proposed programme of activities must be open regarding the final location and framework of the Next Step/ITER and the precise content of the accompanying domestic programme. The EU's participation in ITER would include contributions to the construction of equipment and installations as well as to the costs associated with the staffing and management of, and the support to be given to, the project during construction. The level and nature of this participation will depend on the outcome of the negotiations with the EU's international partners, and in turn on the location of the ITER site. If ITER was located in Europe, EU participation would also include contribution to the costs to be borne by Europe as a host party.The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the Specific Programme. .It shall draw up a work programme for the implementation of the Specific Programme, setting out in great detail the objectives and scientific and technological priorities and the timetable for implementation and the instruments to be used. The work programme shall take account of relevant research activities carried out by the Member States, associated states, European and international organisations. It shall be updated where appropriate.For the purposes of implementing the specific programme the Commission is assisted by a consultative committee. The members of this committee can vary according to the different subjects on the committee's agenda. The Commission shall regularly report on the overall progress of the implementation of the specific programme and information on financial aspects shall be included. The Commission shall arrange for the independent monitoring and assessment of the activities carried out in the fields covered by the specific programme. In order to implement the Specific Programme, and in accordance with the Council Decisions concerning the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities , the Commission will use various instruments and will evaluate the proposals in accordance with the evaluation criteria. _ InstrumentsThe projects undertaken will be carried out on the basis of procedures set out in:- Contracts of association,- The European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA),- Any other multilateral agreement concluded between the Community and associated organisations and/or legal entities which may be set up, after the competent consultative committee has given its opinion,- Other contracts of limited duration, in particular with bodies in the member states or the states associated with the Euratom Framework Programme,- International agreements covering projects carried out in the framework of cooperation with third countries.The activities to coordinate and support fusion energy research may concern studies in support of these activities, support for information exchange, recourse to external expertise capacities, including for the independent evaluation of activities, fellowships and training schemes, publications and other actions to promote technology transfer.