Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Framework programme


Previous programme


Programme funding

EUR 895 million

Official Journal Reference

L 331 of 1994-12-21

Legislative Reference

94/799/Euratom of 1994-12-08
The long-term objective of the programme which embraces all activities undertaken in the Member States (plus Switzerland) in the field of controlled thermonuclear fusion by magnetic confinement, is the joint creation of safe, environmentally sound prototype reactors, which should result in the construction of economically viable power stations which will meet the needs of potential users.


The specific programme on controlled thermonuclear fusion forms part of the Framework Programme of Community activities in the field of research and training for the European Atomic Energy Community (1994-1998). The conclusions of the seminar on a European strategy for energy research and technological development (Venice, November 1993) are incorporated into its activities.

The programme builds on the intra-Community cooperation which enabled a project the size of JET and the recognition of the Community as an equal partner in the ITER experimental reactor.

The long-term objective of the Community fusion programme, embracing all thermonuclear fusion activities undertaken in the Member States (plus Sweden and Switzerland), is the joint creation of a safe, environmentally sound prototype reactor, which should result in the construction of economically viable power stations. Progress towards this long-term objective, which has a time scale measured in decades, is shared by the world's four major fusion programmes (Euratom, Japan, Russia, USA).

The strategy leading towards the prototype commercial reactor consists of two steps:

- An experimental reactor (Next Step), to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy for peaceful purposes;
- A demonstration reactor (DEMO) capable of producing significant quantities of electricity. Safety and environmental issues will play a central role in the construction of these devices.

For the period 1994 to 1998, the priority objective is to establish the engineering design of the Next Step through the quadripartite cooperation within the framework of the ITER-EDA. The activities will be carried out by the Joint Central Team of the ITER-EDA (25% of which is made up of Commission agents) and by the Home Teams of the four Parties. The ITER-EDA technology design tasks allocated to Euratom are coordinated by the NET Team and will be executed by the Associations, the JRC, JET and industry.

JET's main task is to establish reliable methods of plasma purity control under conditions relevant for the Next Step and to conduct high-performance options in deuterium-tritium plasmas. The JET Joint Undertaking has been prolonged until end 1999 (in accordance with the Council Decision 96/305/Euratom) with the acquired expertise being mainly transferred to support the ITER.

Industry is encouraged to participate more fully in the actions covered by the programme, with the twin aim of introducing industrial expertise into the realization of the Next Step and ensuring that European industry will master the technologies necessary to build future fusion reactors. The organization of joint "industry-fusion" seminars has been undertaken.

A rigorous independent assessment of the prospects of fusion has been undertaken.

The JRC has designed and constructed the European tritium handling laboratory (ETHEL), which can offer research capability to European organizations.

Community research undertaken for the ITER-EDA is directed in such a way as that the necessary competence is developed in all key technologies, in particular the fields of superconducting magnets, plasma facing components, operational and environmental safety, the fuel cycle and highly reliable remote handling for maintenance and decommissioning of the device in its particular environment.

Research has continued to focus on controlled thermal nuclear fusion by magnetic confinement in toroidal geometry. Within the framework of its keep-in-touch activities, a coordination of civilian activities in the field of inertial confinement has been undertaken, will be continued and, if possible extended to an international framework.


Simultaneous development of three activities:

- Next Step activities:
To design an experimental reactor within the quadripartite framework (Euratom, Japan, Russia, USA) on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor Engineering Design Activities (ITER-EDA):
. R&D in physics and technology to support the ITER-EDA;

- Concept improvements:
To improve current techniques for tackling certain plasma physics and plasma engineering problems, which could help finalize the design and prepare the operation of the Next Step and, in the longer term, to define the demonstration reactor (DEMO). Preparatory activities under way to upgrade existing devices and construct new ones relate in particular to:
. Engineering design and prototype development for a possible large stellarator (WVII-X) to demonstrate the advanced
performance of that configuration; and, development of conceptual studies on the reactor potential of stellarators;
. Possible upgrading of some Tokamaks, notably TORE-SUPRA;

- Long-term technology:
The long-term technology effort will be expanded with a view to providing technically and environmentally acceptable solutions to the technical problems of using fusion as an energy source. This long-term technology effort will be undertaken in the Associations, in the JRC and in industry, and will include in particular:
. Development of tritium breeding blankets, with a view to building DEMO-relevant blanket modules to be tested in ITER;
. Development of radiation resistant and low activation materials. Testing these materials will require the availability of a high energy neutron source;
. Further analysis of the safety and social acceptability of fusion power. In particular, analysis and assessment of the possible risks associated with fusion power and its future large facilities, and the integration of all possible measures to prevent or minimize such risks.


The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme, assisted by the Consultative Committee for the Fusion Programme established by the Council Decision of 16 December 1980.

The programme's long-term objective will be achieved through collaboration with those countries with whom the Community has concluded cooperation agreements in the field of thermonuclear fusion, by virtue of article 101 of the Euratom Treaty. During the first phase of the evolution of the fusion programme, the Member States will participate in the activities of the ITER-EDA alongside Japan, Russia and the USA.

Protocol 2 of the ITER-EDA Agreement covers the period to July 1998. An extension by three years of the ITER-EDA is expected.

The indicative breakdown of the programme budget is as follows: Next Step activities ECU 318 to 363 million (including design proper and the necessary R&D support in physics and technology provided in the Associations and by industry); JET Joint Undertaking ECU 183 to 254 million; Concept improvements ECU 175 to 202 million; and, Long-term technology ECU 40-53 million.

The overall programme budget includes a sum equivalent to about 12% for basic research and training and a maximum of 17% for staff and administrative expenditure. An amount of ECU 46 million, the difference between the amount deemed necessary for this programme and the amount foreseen in the framework programme for research and training activities in the nuclear field (1994-1998) for controlled thermonuclear fusion, is earmarked for the specific research and technological development programme to be implemented by means of direct action by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), for the European Atomic Energy Programme.

Research activities are mainly carried out through shared-cost activities. Projects are selected on the basis of the contracts of Association with bodies in the Member States (plus Switzerland), the JET statutes, the NET Agreement, the ITER-EDA Agreement, and any other Community-wide agreements which may be concluded.

The Community's financial contribution to the current expenditure of the Associations is, as a rule, fixed at the uniform rate of around 25%. After consulting the Consultative Committee, the Commission may finance investment costs for defined projects at a rate of about 45% whilst specific tasks carried out by industry may receive up to 100% of the total costs. Some financial support is available for concerted actions and preparatory, accompanying and support measures. These may include studies to support the programme and prepare for future activities, use of outside expertise (including access to outside databases), training activities linked to the research covered by the programme, and studies evaluating the socio-economic consequences and any potential technological risks.


The budget of this specific programme has been increased from ECU 840 to ECU 895 million following the accession of the three new Member States (Austria, Sweden and Finland) on 1 January 1995.


Nuclear Fusion
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