Fusion is a long-term research requiring sophisticated experimental devices and a large coordinated effort. To support such a programme, specific funding opportunities/mechanisms - different from those used in other EU research programmes and fully integrated and coordinated at the European level - have been set up.
European funding for the research is provided under the Framework Programmes for Research and Training of Euratom (the European Atomic Energy Community), the so called EURATOM FP. The European contributions to the ITER project are almost entirely funded by Euratom. Collective actions (such as the operation of the JET facilities) receive a large fraction of their funding from Euratom, while research carried out for the fusion programme in laboratories in the member States also receives a significant fraction of funding from national sources. All EU Member States plus Switzerland (as an associated third state) participate in, and contribute to, the programme.
The funding mechanisms are:
- The Contract Association, between the European Commission and research organisations in the Member States (or associated third states) which carry out the research. The Commission participates in the steering of the research programmes of the Associates.
- The European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA), a multilateral agreement in which all the Associates and the Commission participate. Euratom funding is channelled through EFDA to the Associates in support of priority coordinated and collective actions. In particular, the operation of the JET facilities is supported through a JET Implementing Agreement (for participation of the Associates in the scientific exploitation) and a JET Operating Contract. EFDA also manages actions to promote and develop human resources in fusion: a training scheme and fellowships for young researchers.
- The European Joint Undertaking for ITER (Fusion for Energy) is almost entirely funded by Euratom. A large fraction of this funding is used for procurement of ITER components, and the associated R&D. Euratom also makes a direct financial contribution to the ITER International Organisation, through the Fusion for Energy budget.
- Other multilateral agreements concluded between the Community and the Associates include the Agreement on Staff Mobility and an Implementing Agreement for the High Performance Computer for Fusion Applications.
- Coordination and Support Actions which strengthen the interfaces of the fusion community with related scientific and industrial communities.
- Cost-sharing actions, with bodies in the Member States or third countries associated with the Seventh Framework Programme which do not have a Contract of Association, can be used to promote and contribute to fusion energy research.