The European Commission says that an additional EUR 1.4 billion will be needed to finance Europe’s contribution towards the fusion demonstration reactor ITER in 2012-2013. It proposes to cover this amount with the redeployment of EUR 460 million funds from the FP7 research programme and the transfer of unused funds from other EU budgets.
The budgetary revisions are necessary because Europe’s overall costs for the ITER project have more than doubled from an initial EUR 2.7 billion to EUR 6.6 billion for 2007-2020. The domestic agency for Europe, Fusion for Energy (F4E), which manages Europe’s role in the project, estimates the cost will be even higher, at EUR 7.2 billion. The ITER Council called for strong cost containment measures to deliver the necessary contribution within this lower budget.
Following a council meeting on 12 July the Commission has proposed redeployment of EUR 100 million in 2012 and EUR 360 million in 2013 from the 7th Framework Programme for Research. It is also proposing an initial transfer of EUR 400 million of unused funds from other EU budgets to the budget financing ITER. A further such transfer will be specified later, with that process beginning in the context of the budgetary conciliation in November.
Commissioners Lewandowski and Geoghegan-Quinn said: "ITER can provide a safe, clean and inexhaustible source of energy for the future. This is an immense prize – especially when you consider that the EU had a trade deficit in energy of nearly EUR 400 billion in 2008. The EU needs to show the vision and the resolve beyond the immediate financing difficulties and meet its international commitment to this project.”
The European Parliament and the Council will now both have to agree on the proposal amending the current multiannual financial framework 2007-2013.