On 13 December, the European Parliament endosed the plan under which the international nuclear fusion research project ITER will receive €1.3 billion from the EU budget for 2012 and 2013.
To fund ITER, the EU's multiannual financial framework (MFF) had to be revised and the Parliament supported those revisions. Out of the total sum, €100 million has already been foreseen in the 2012 budget, whereas €840m will be deducted from the headings for administration and agriculture and added to research and development and the €360m needed in 2013 will be further discussed during the 2013 budget procedure.
The Parliament expressed deep regrets a statement issued on 12 December by a blocking minority of six member states, in this case Germany, France, Austria, the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden, which contradicts the already reached agreement on the source of the €360m for the 2013 budgetary year.
"If the Council sticks to this statement, then Parliament cannot guarantee the €360m needed in 2013," warned German EPP deputy Reimer Böge, who is also the rapporteur for the MFF revision. Böge added that "funding for ITER must not jeopardise funding for other projects in 2013".
ITER is a joint research project of the EU, the US, China, Russia, India, Japan and South Korea, which aims to show that fusion energy is scientifically and technologically feasible. Building of the ITER platform in Cadarache, France has commenced and the facility should be ready in 2018.
In the project's starting phase, the EU is responsible for about 45.5% of construction costs, whereas China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US each contribute about 9.1%. Total costs during the construction phase are estimated at €13bn, of which the EU contribution is estimated at €6.6bn.