Nuclear research has been spared the knife as the European Commission (EC) pares down its proposed seventh framework programme (FP7) following a tough budget settlement recently agreed with European Union (EU) ministers and members of the European Parliament.

This led to the overall 2007-13 FP7 budget being slashed from last year’s proposal of €75.7 billion to €54.5 billion, and the commission has now written plans to divide this figure amongst its research spending priorities. But although most other budget headings have taken a hit, nuclear research allocations appear to have increased. Last year, €3.092 billion was earmarked for Euratom FP7 spending over the programme’s seven years. But in unpublished papers passed to NEI, this is now €4.05 billion. Even accounting for the fact that the new proposals take inflation between 2004 and 2006 into account that is an increase. This money would be divided up into €750 million going directly to the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), and €3.3 billion for outside grants. Of this, €2.9 billion would be reserved for nuclear fusion (largely the global Iter fusion project), and €411 million on fission.

Speaking generally, EC research spokesperson Antonia Mochan said: “The budget is not what we asked for, but we’ll do our best.”

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