Broad agreement has been reached in the European Union Council of Ministers on the shape of the next Euratom research programme (2002-6), although Member States have yet to reach a consensus regarding its budget or the future direction of studies into fission production.

Ministers however have stressed their commitment to fusion research to guarantee Europe’s long-term energy needs, preferring it to be conducted within the ITER project. Regarding fission, the Council of Ministers (research) agreed on the importance of safety and radioprotection, but not a European Commission proposal to fund the development of new reactor types that produce less waste. These Euratom studies would form part of the European Union’s sixth framework programme for research.