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Thematic priority - Management of radioactive waste of the specific framework programme for the European Atomic Energy Community within the multi-annual framework programme 2002-2006.

'Management of radioactive waste' is part of the specific programme (Euratom) for research and training on nuclear energy. This thematic priority of the programme aims to find safe ways of dealing with nuclear waste in the short term. The ways of dealing with the waste and the implementation of technical solutions for the management of long-lived waste need to be acceptable to society.

Cooperation at European level, including the exchange of scientists and common research programmes, is already well established in this field. It will be intensified and deepened at programme and project level in order to make better use of resources (both human resources and experimental facilities) and promote a common European view on key problems and approaches, in accordance with the needs of the European research area.

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 aim is to develop and test the repository technologies, investigate suitable sites, promote basic scientific understanding relating to safety and safety assessment methods, and to develop decision processes that the stakeholders find fair and equitable. The aim is also to explore the technical and economic potential, on an industrial scale, of concepts for nuclear energy generation able to make better use a) of fissile material and generate less waste and b) of partitioning and transmutation to reduce the hazard of the waste.

1. Research on geological disposal.
The aim is to establish a sound technical basis for demonstrating the safety of disposing spent fuel and long lived radioactive wastes in geological formations and underpin the development of a common European view on the main issues related to the management and disposal of waste.
a) Improvement of fundamental knowledge, developing and testing technologies: research will focus on key physical, chemical and biological processes; interaction between the different natural and engineered barriers, their long-term stability and means of implementing disposal technologies in underground research laboratories.
b) New and improved tools: research will focus on models for performance, and safety assessment, and methodologies to demonstrate long term safety, including sensitivity and uncertainty analyses, and development and evaluation of alternative measures of performance and of better governance processes that properly address public concerns on waste disposal.

2. Partitioning and transmutation and other concepts to produce less waste in nuclear energy generation.
The aim is to determine practical ways of reducing the amount and/or hazard of the waste to be disposed of by partitioning and transmutation and to explore the potential of concepts for nuclear energy to produce less waste.
a) Partitioning and transmutation: research will focus on fundamental assessments of the overall concept; demonstration at small scale of the most promising partitioning technologies; further development of technologies for transmutation; and evaluation of their industrial practicability.
b) Concepts to produce less waste: research will focus on exploring the potential for the more efficient use of fissile material in existing reactors and of other concepts to produce less waste in nuclear energy generation.
The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the specific programme. All research activities carried out under the specific programme must comply with the fundamental ethical principles. The specific programme is implemented by means of instruments. The rules for participation apply to the specific programme. The Commission draws up a work programme for the implementation of the specific programme. This work programme sets out in detail the objectives, scientific and technological priorities, the timetable for implementation and the instruments to be used in the specific programme. The work programme takes account of relevant research activities carried out by the Member States, Associated States, European and international organisations. It will be updated where appropriate.

A consultative committee assists the Commission in implementing the specific programme. The members of this committee can vary according to the different subjects on the committee's agenda. The Commission reports regularly on the overall progress of the implementation of the specific programme. Information on financial aspects is included in the report. The Commission arranges independent monitoring and assessment of the activities carried out in the fields covered by the specific programme.

The Commission will use various instruments to implement the specific programme, and it will evaluate the proposals in accordance with the evaluation criteria.

Instruments used:
- Networks of excellence, aimed at strengthening and developing Community scientific and technological excellence by means of the integration, at European level, of research capacities currently existing or emerging at both national and regional level.
- Integrated projects, designed to give increased impetus to the Community's competitiveness or to address major societal needs by mobilising a critical mass of research and technological development resources and competences.
- Specific targeted research or training projects, designed to gain new knowledge either to improve considerably or to develop new products, processes or services or to meet other needs of society and Community policies or to demonstrate the viability of new technologies offering potential economic advantage but which cannot be commercialised directly, or to facilitate the timely diffusion of new knowledge on a European scale and better integrate national activities.
- Actions to promote and develop human resources and mobility.
- Coordination actions, intended to promote and support coordinated initiatives of a range of research and innovation operators aiming at improved integration.
- Specific support actions, such as actions aimed at exploiting the results of research and transfer of knowledge and actions in support of research infrastructure relating to, for instance, trans-national access or preparatory technical work (including feasibility studies).
- Integrated infrastructure initiatives, combining in a single action several activities essential to reinforce and develop research infrastructures in order to provide services at the European level.

The Community's budgetary intervention in indirect actions is aimed at research centres, universities, businesses and national or international bodies situated in the Member States and the European Associated States, which carry out research activities. The European Associated States may also act as intermediaries for Community budgetary intervention. Bodies in the Newly Independent States (NIS) and international organisations may exceptionally receive Community funding where this proves necessary to achieve the objectives of the programme,